War was often associated with tragedies and yet if the My Lai tragedy was often reported by communist and U.S. presses, the 1968 Hue Massacre
received only scant attention. My Lai was a small village whose 300 civilians were killed while Hue-the third largest city in South Vietnam.
My Lai-saw the killing of more than 2,800 civilian and foreign citizens. One involved a slaughter by U.S. troops, the other by the North
Vietnamese army. While perpetrators were brought to justice in one case, Hanoi either denied that the Hue massacre had ever happened or
blamed it on the Buddhists. While survivors of the My Lai are still given access to foreign press (1), those of the Hue massacre have to
hide for their lives or are not allowed to speak up. They live in a "traumatic past" under a watchful and dreaded government.
On January 30, 1968 the communists launched an all-out attack of major cities, provincial capitals, and military bases in South Vietnam.
While most of the attacks were repulsed within days, only Hue was occupied for 25 days. The battle of Hue-assigned to North Vietnamese Army
(NVA) soldiers-was led by NVA commanders, Colonels Le Minh and Than Trong Mot. The occupation of the city was long enough to give rise to a
civilian administration directed by a local professor of anthropology Le Van Hao and Mrs. Tuan Chi, his deputy. Local traitors: Hoang Phu
Ngoc Tuong and Hoang Phu Ngoc Phan, Ton That Duong Tiem, and Nguyen Dac Xuan with their knowledge of the city landscape helped the NVA troops
to locate city or state officials.
The NVA soldiers carried lists of Vietnamese military and political figures-provided by the traitors-marked for death or capture. No American
or other foreigner, except for the French, was to be spared. Roman Catholics, marked as reactionary leaders even though they were French, had
to be disposed of. Stephen Miller from the U.S. Information agency was taken to a field behind a Catholic seminary and shot with his hands
tied behind his back. Pham Van Tuong, a part time janitor, was gunned down in his front yard along with his two small children. Mrs Lao, a
cigarette vendor, was executed because her sister worked for the government.