The Saigon Post
May 10, 1971
LETTER FROM A MASSACRE
Government sources have made available to this column the transcript of a letter found in the pocket of a Catholic priest who was murderd near Hue in 1968. It is the first known letter recovered from a victim of the Communist massacres during their 1968 Winter-Spring Offensive .
These sources reveal that the body of Father Buu Dong, age 57, was found on November 8, 1969 at Luong Vien which is about 30 kilometers northeast of Hue. The bodies of two other Catholic priests were in the same grave. This location contained a series of graves with a total of 20 bodies.
Father Buu Dong was a popular figure in charge of the Su-Lo An Truyen Parish in Phu Vang District. A dangerous combination for him: very popular, respected and non-Communist.
The letter he left is on one sheet of paper folded three times. Circumstantial evidence clearly indicates that it was composed during the time of his captivity. It's a testament written to his family. He has no hope of ever seeing them again on Earth, "but I hope to meet you in God's country, my dear parents."
He has entrusted a friar to carry back to them "all my beongings and to be divided among you." He has also decided on "the recipients of the three sewing machines."
Sources say that a boy who tends buffalo led authorities to the graves of Father Buu-Dong and the others. This boy reportedly witnessed the executions five months earlier. He did not at first report what he saw because VC strength in the area was still too intimidating. The boy said that Father Buu-Dong was shot
and the other two priests were killed by clubbing their heads with the stock of a rifle.
The buffalo boy also said that Father Buu-Dong had asked his captors to permit him to go see the Vietcong District Commissioner because he was innocent. Permission was not granted.
Government sources have also made available to this column the transcript of the VC Battle Plan for the 1968 Tet Offensive against Hue. Paragraph II, sub-headed Religion, provides background on events such as those which doomed Father Buu-Dong and others. Section 'a' deals with Catholics.
"We must encircle churches and schools. In case the enemy hides inside the church, we must pursue and capture him. Priests and vicars who conceal and protect the enemy must be arrested immediately.
"We must explain to the people our reasons; at the same time, force them to give us their weapons. We should carefully judge criminals in order to determine their punishment ("death or imprisonment.")
The transcript of Father Buu-Dong's letter has been translated into English. Below is the complete text.
FATHER BUU-DONG'S TESTAMENT FOUND ON HIS BODY UNCOVERED ON 08.11.1969 AT LUONG VIEN.
I humbly bow myself to you, my dear parents.
You will be very sad to lose a child. Though I am not fortunate enough to attend on you in my old age, I think you would find comfort in and be pleased with learning that through love for God and for men I have bravely discharged my duty as a Catholic priest and a believer,
I beg you to forgive me for all that may have displeased you during the past 57 years.
I hope to meet you in God's country, my dear parents, please pray for me (an illegible line.)
Younger bothers Claudia, Hiep, An Xuyen, Thieu, Tuong Anh, Xuan, Raphael, Ling, Khue, Nhu, Sao, Khoi, Chinh Duan, Nghi Dien and my near and far paternal and maternal relatives.
I hope to see you all in Paradise.
Please pray for me whether I am alive or dead. Your elder brother.
I entrusted Friar XH with arranging with you to carry back all my belongings and to be divided among you. I have decided on the recipients of the three sewing machines.
Dear Children of Christ:
This is my last writing to remind you of Peter's blessing on the host in the storm...(3 illegible words.)
Please remember my blessings in the beginning of spring on my religious mission and pray for me when my life ends in accordance with God's will.
(Love Maria, and forgive all errors (1 word illegible.)
Let me thank you....(4 illegible words) Pray to God to forgive me. Sincerely pray for me so that I may live in love, austerity, to establish peace for Christ, to spiritually serve God and Maria's spiritual children.
Pray for me so that I may peacefully and bravely endure all spiritual and physical sufferings and that I may confide my body to God through Maria.
I hope we shall meet in God's country.
God bless you (end of letter)
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