|The following is an excerpt taken from Hos speech made before the 18th National Congress of the French Socialist Party held at Tours, France, from the 25th to the 30th of December 1920: |
Chairman: Comrade Indochinese Delegate, you have the floor (Applause).
Indochinese Delegate*: Today, instead of contributing, together with you, to world revolution, I come here with deep sadness to speak as a member of the Socialist Party, against the imperialists who have committed abhorrent crimes on my native land. (Very good!) You all have known that French imperialism entered Indochina half a century ago. In its selfish interests, it conquered our country with bayonets. Since then we have not only been oppressed and exploited shamelessly, but also tortured and poisoned pitilessly. Plainly speaking, we have been poisoned with opium, alcohol, etc. I cannot, in some minutes, reveal all of the atrocities that the predatory capitalists have inflicted on Indochina. Prisons outnumber schools and are always crowded with detainees. Any natives having socialist ideas are arrested and sometimes murdered without trial. Such is the so-called justice in Indochina. In that country the Vietnamese are discriminated against, they do not enjoy safety like Europeans or those having European citizenship. We have neither freedom of press or freedom of speech. Even freedom of assembly and freedom of association do not exist. We have no right to live in other countries or to go abroad as tourists. We are forced to live in utter ignorance and obscurity because we have no right to study. In Indochina the colonialists find all ways and means to force us to smoke opium and drink alcohol to poison and beset us. Thousands of Vietnamese have been led to a slow death or massacred to protect other peoples interests....
* Ho Chi Minh
|Always a realist, Ho soon perceived that his call for Vietnamese self-determination would be ignored by the colonial powers. Meanwhile, he had been reading Lenin as well as Marx. The latter had predicted that the revolution would take place in an industrial power such as England or Germany. But it had come in agricultural Russia, where millions of peasants suffered. |
The countries occupied and governed by the colonial powers were also populated largely by poor, landless peasants. Lenin perceived in them the potential for revolutions that would give Russia worldwide allies. Ho came to believe that Lenins critique of imperialism provided a path to Vietnamese independence. He decided that he must go to Russia.