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Published by Les Indes Savantes
  • 2024 

  • 350 pages

  • 29 €

Many adventurers say that the destination is not important, but the journey itself. And mine has been a beautiful one. To share, even in prison, a decisive period in the struggles of a people in the final phase of decolonisation, to see the birth of peace in this martyred Vietnam, to continue the adventure with them to build democracy: what a privilege!

Throughout this journey, driven by the great turbulence of history and extraordinary human encounters, I have tried to remain "on the side of tears", in the words of my friend the poet Hoàng Hưng. Tears of pain or joy that bring together in the same hope of happiness those who are called the victors and the vanquished in this torn Vietnamese family.

English and Vietnamese edition coming soon

"An exceptional account of André Menras' long association with Vietnam, a country of which he became a citizen in 2009. An unvarnished chronicle, corrosive of the powers that be, yet sympathetic to the little people of the rice paddies and the sea. 

A must-read for a better understanding of this country's crucial issues".

François Guillemot

CNRS Research Engineer

East Asia Institute

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The author

André Menras

(Hồ Cương Quyết)

report VOA Vietnam - French & Vietnamese

From the moment he arrived in Vietnam during the height of the war with the USA in 1968 to teach French, this country and its people made such a profound impression on the author and son of a farmer from the south of France that he went on to become a Vietnamese national and speak the language. From being a political prisoner in Saigon to his struggles in France and his banned films, it’s been a half-century of profound love and disappointments which have continually been overcome with persistent hope. He still supports a Vietnam which refuses to lose the independence and freedom for which it has given so much. His latest film, “The Knights of the Yellow Sands”, is part of this unique saga.


1968 : A year after completing his training at the Primary teacher training college in Montpellier, André Menras went to Vietnam to teach French as member of a cooperation programme. The war was at its height, just after the Tet offensive led by the forces of the National Liberation Front. He is 23 years old.

1970 : He is arrested and imprisoned in Saigon for brandishing the NLF of South Vietnam's flag and distributing leaflets in Vietnamese demanding the withdrawal of American and foreign troops.

1973 : Under pressure from large organisations such as Le Secours Populaire Français and Amnesty International, he is released and expelled by the Saigon regime a few days before the Paris Agreements are signed.

1973-1974-1975 : He co-wrote a book ("Nous accusons" - We accuse - published by Editeurs Français Réunis) and toured the world at the invitation of various associations, trade unions and political parties to talk about prison conditions.

1975 : End of the war. He resumes his job as a teacher in a small village in Hérault, France.

1977 : Short visit to Vietnam at the invitation of the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

 

2001 : In his civil service records, the French Ministry of Education describes his two and a half years in prison as "leave to be with his wife". He then has a difficult fight to get official recognition from the Laurent Fabius government that he was sent to prison for peaceful, political and human rights activities. After a year of campaigning and involvement from trade unions and associations, he spends six days and nights in the bell tower in the Saint-Nazaire cathedral in Béziers in December. The government eventually acknowledges the reality behind his political imprisonment. Retirement.

2002 : He returns to Vietnam for the first time in 25 years. He is made an honorary citizen of Ho Chí Minh City and sets up a Franco-Vietnamese educational exchange association.

 

2003 : Change of government (Raffarin) and the commitments made by the Fabius government are called into question. After a year of mobilisation and campaigning, he spends 46 days and nights in the bell tower in Béziers cathedral. The Raffarin government, in turn, ends up recognising the commitments previously made.

 

De 2003 à 2008 : André Menras stays multiple times in Vietnam.

 

2009 : He is the first foreigner to be given Vietnamese nationality by the President of the Republic, Nguyễn Minh Triết.

2010 : With the help of Ho Chí Minh City Television, he directs the documentary film "Hoang Sa Vietnam: the pain of loss" on the fate of the widows of the Vietnamese fishermen attacked by Chinese forces in the Paracel archipelago.  The film is prohibited from being shown in Vietnam in order to maintain good relations between the Chinese Communist Party and the Vietnamese Communist Party.  For three years, this documentary can only be shown as a form of militant action in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland… Under pressure from opinion inside and outside Vietnam, and when there is Chinese aggression in 2014, it is finally shown, albeit secretly, in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City.

 

2017 : André Menras directs another film, “The Knights of the Yellow Sands” as a follow up to the first, with a crew of Vietnamese fishermen-divers in the Paracel archipelago which they are banned from by the Chinese.

2019 : Back in Vietnam with the project of making a new film on the archipelago of the Spratly Islands threatened by Beijing, André Menras is welcomed in Saigon by his friends from the Lê Hiếu Đằng club. At the end of their meeting, a poet member of the club is arrested by the political police. The author then decides to make a new film to denounce the police regime of the ruling Single Party: "Vietnam: a cry from within".

Some of the author's work :

- «Rescapés des bagnes de Saigon, nous accusons» Editeurs Français Réunis, 1973.

- «Laos, Cambodge et Viêtnam : premiers dominos de l’expansionnisme chinois ?» by André Menras in Recherches internationales N°86, avril-juin 2009.

http://www.recherches-internationales.fr/RI86_pdf/RI86_MENR_pdf.pdf

- «André Menras : "tâches d’huile" et "coups de bélier. L’affaire de la plateforme de forage chinoise».  Mémoires d’Indochine

https://indomemoires.hypotheses.org/tag/andre-menras

- «Mer du Sud-Est asiatique : Chronique d’un hold-up annoncé» par André Menras in Mélanges Charles Fourniau. Ed. Indes Savantes.

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