Let’s Talk: Was Vietnam right in banning Aussies from Long Tan?

On Wednesday, the night before the 50th anniversary of the 1966 battle of Long Tan, Vietnamese officials placed a blanket

On Wednesday, the night before the 50th anniversary of the 1966 battle of Long Tan, Vietnamese officials placed a blanket ban on people attending a memorial, but after contact from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, reduced the ban.

The ceremony that had been cancelled would have been attended by 1000 Australian veterans, and a gala dinner and concert had also been planned.

While there was outrage at the ban from some quarters, particularly from veterans who had made the trip to the site east of Ho Chi Minh city, there are some who think that the ban was justified.

One of those who has defended Vietnam’s decision to restrict Australian commemorations of the battle of Long Tan is former war journalist Mike Carlton.

The ex-correspondent, who has reported on the Vietnam war twice, has compared the memorial service to Japanese soldiers visiting Darwin to remember bombing it in World War II, while speaking on The Project.

Mr Carlton told Daily Mail Australia the event would have been like Germans marching down Paris’ Champs-Elysees to remember the invasion of France, or their Luftwaffe going to cities in England they bombed.

He pointed out there would be families still living in the area who had lost relatives in the battle.

“They would be, I would think, quite upset at the scale of the Australian commemorations.”

He said in the past, the Vietnamese had welcomed smaller numbers of veterans to commemorate the battle in a “spirit of camaraderie”, and likely cancelled this year’s event when they realised how big it had become.

Although he said Australia “didn’t have the right to call the shots on this one”, he did empathise with the veterans.

“[They] feel really saddened and angered that they can not go to the site where so many of their mates died.”

Let’s Talk: What do you think about the Vietnam ban? Do you agree with what the journalist said or do you think he was out of line?

  1. Alan Martin  

    I think that the choice of wording is incorrect, and yes I do think Mike Carlton is out of line because he has also chosen incorrect wording. I believe that it is not so much about remembering the battle but about remembering the men who gave their lives.
    Isn’t this what we do on Anzac day?

  2. Max t  

    Typical small minded little Asian country.

    Next year stay home guys, & don’t waste your money going there. That country doesn’t, at a minimum, appreciate your tourist $.

    Your fallen comrades can be remembered very well indeed, in their OWN Country.

    • colin  

      I guess Max T is referring to Australia as a small minded country. thoughtless and uncaring as to those in Vietnam left after their families were murdered in a war. AND yes they were murdered because that is what war is, MURDER. Fact is The LNP government knew about the issue in advance and not just the day before. but should we allow the Japanese come over here and march through Darwin to celebrate the bombing of that harbour? Australia had no place to be there anyway. same goes goes for the middle east civil wars. and as Max says the fallen can be remembered in their own country i.e. Australia. but I think he is a little racist in his comments.

      • Max t  

        My cousin, a Warrant Officer, in the Australian Army, mentioned THRICE in Despatches, died of cancer, at 42, thanks to the effects of Agent Orange, sprayed during Vietnamese War.

        So, he too, was murdered!

  3. I agree with him. Many Vietnamese are still suffering the long term effects of agent orange and other chemicals used in that war. I am sure that it would be an unwelcome reminder of a time of great tragedy.

  4. Bruce Taylor  

    Our soldiers who fell in battle deserve to be remembered but so do the Vietnamese who were defending their own country. I can only imagine how the friends and relatives of the over 1000 Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in the battle would feel about the prospect of so many people going there to commemorate the enemy.
    We must remember that we, along with America and others interfered in a civil war which the UN and other nations like Britain, France and the rest of Europe refused to do. We caused immense damage to their country with the use of agent orange and other chemicals although the Geneva Convention expressly prohibits chemical warfare and thousands if innocent civilians were killed.
    By all means salute the brave men from Australia who went there and did their duty but don’t get upset when the victims do not feel like joining in.

    • Jean Wallace  

      I agree with you, we cannot force our rememberances onto a country whose own rememberance of our soldiers (doing their duty to Australia) is one of agression and terror. Remember our soldiers with pride but do it here at home.

  5. Stephen Duff  

    Mike Carlton has a point, BUT, Gallipoli, is it reasonable to ban that too?? The locals are so poverty stricken that we pay over $86 million in Overseas aid to the country, so they must do very well off the Aussie Vets tourist dollar?
    The reality is if you are going to say NO, do so Before the 1000 or so vets get there, certainly not the day before, they knew how many tourists were there, the hotels knew the influx. So what really happened??
    Vietnam might not have its voting process controlled by the Chinese, but everything else is. In the past month the Chinese have been bullying and insulting to Australia with all sorts of belittling and plain arrogant behaviour. Vietnam just kowtowed to the Chinese behaviour, and Turnball is too gutless to do anything about it.
    Oh he’ll huff and puff and maybe hold a royal commission, and look good in his expensive suit, but he wont actually stand up for the Viet Vets, for Australia.

  6. Stephen Duff  

    Just read another view on Mike Carltons thoughts. Male Cow Manure Mike, we were on the same side as the South Vietnams locals not the invading force, it is nothing like Darwin or the Germans in Paris, it is more like the Australian military grave yard in Beth Sheva in Israel where the Charge of The Light Brigade are buried, or the WW1 stuff happening in France. This decision was not about the locals at all, it came from Hanoi.

  7. I believe Vietnam has every right to veto this. Who do we Aussies think we are getting all huffy over another country not wanting us to commemorate the day we killed many of their citizens? Do it at home.

  8. Pamela  

    It was meant to be 1000 but 3000 were to attend in total.

    The locals were concerned and told their Government.

    The Vietnamese Government actually listened and acted on behalf of the Vietnamese people.

    Though understandably disappointing for some Aussies, I only wish our government would listen and act on many issues that concern us.

  9. morna kenworthy  

    Perhaps we need to know a little more about the way that people of a different race and religious background view the way we remember our dead. They may not have an understanding of it’s importance or of the way we need to grieve.
    I could understand the Government of Vietnam acting as it did if it saw our presence there and of our memory of Long Tan as a celebration of a time that saw the death of 100’s of it’s people. I can understand, too, the need for our people to re-visit that place, to re-live experiences that have bedevilled them for decades……to finally lay ghosts to rest!

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