Kabul’s Fall Conjures Saigon Evacuation Memories

Thao-Nguyen Le yet? can stop thinking about Afghanistan.

As for Le, the father who was imprisoned by the Vietnamese communist government after the US withdrew from Saigon in 1975, images of Afghans trying to escape the country are causing. People were seen clinging to a military cargo plane, the walls widened with barbed wire fences, and filled the airport’s runways. Following the news at her home in Paris made Le feel despair, grief, and anger, and evoked painful memories of her childhood in postwar Vietnam.

Born in 1983 in Da Lat, a tourist destination about 190 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Le grew up in poverty, having to ask for money from relatives and rely on goods and services. neighbors to have cooking oil for the family. After being branded a traitor for fighting alongside the Americans in the war, her father struggled to find work. In addition to being imprisoned after the fall of Saigon, he was arrested a second time after giving birth to Le when he tried to escape Vietnam by boat. Now, as she watches the news of her departure from Afghanistan, Le worries about the fate of those who might be left behind like her family 46 years ago.

“I think about my family, about what they’ve been through… and I think what will happen in Afghanistan [is] Le told BuzzFeed News. “I mean, the worst thing is they get killed, but I think being alienated from society, being abused by those in power, I don’t know if that’s much better.”

In the days since the Taliban took over Kabul, President Joe Biden and his administration have protect the processing of their withdrawals of the U.S. military as they ended a 20-year war, dismiss comparisons about the fall of Saigon in 1975. But for Vietnamese refugees and their families, the chaos and potential division of this moment feels unsettlingly familiar.

“For me, the images of when Saigon fell and after are uncanny,” says Cammie P., who grew up in British Columbia after her parents fled Vietnam in the 1980s. , said. “It’s just desperation and seeing people just doing whatever they can to leave because their home is basically done.”

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