Timothy Swanson, Chief of the Humanitarian Resettlement Section at the US Consulate, meets with Chairman Thanh Nguyen of TRC in November
Brian Aggeler, Counselor of Political Affairs at the US Embassy, meets with Chairman Thanh Nguyen of TRC in October
While in Vietnam last October and November, TRC met with US officials at the Embassy and Consulate regarding our efforts in the reeducation camps.
Mr. Brian Aggeler, Counselor of Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Hanoi, pledged his support to our humanitarian project. During the meeting, we discussed the most efficient and tactful way to solicit information and permits from the Vietnamese government.
After this meeting, Mr. Aggeler introduced us to Mr. Timothy Swanson, Chief of the Humanitarian Resettlement Section at the US Consulate General in Saigon. He oversees the immigration of former US allies in Vietnam to the United States under the Orderly Departure Program (closed in 1994 and reopened in 2005). This program was established as the Humanitarian Operation in 1979 to allow for the immigration of former South Vietnamese officials and soldiers who would suffer discrimination and abuse under the new regime. It was later extended to include the wives and, under the McCain Amendment, the children of those who died in reeducation camps. These family members of the deceased must produce their relative’s death certificate with their application for resettlement.
In Saigon, we brought the cases of three families who were denied resettlement because they could not produce a death certificate to Mr. Swanson’s attention. While the reeducation camps were still in operation, many families were not informed of their relative’s whereabouts and some did not receive a death certificate upon their relative’s death. Having recently assisted these families with the recovery of their relative’s remains, Chairman Thanh Nguyen offered to act as a witness confirming that their relative had indeed passed away in the camps. The families also provided photos and other documents proving their relationship with the deceased.
In the future, we hope to be able to provide DNA testing of remains, so that the families will know for certain that they have finally found their loved ones. In lieu of a death certificate, DNA test results will prove invaluable to those who wish to apply for resettlement. We are currently seeking a meeting with the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) at the US Embassy in Hanoi, a detachment of the US Military already using DNA testing to confirm the identities of American remains discovered in Vietnam.
December 15th, 2008 | Category: Government Policy