Vietnamese flag display sparks controversy at UT-Arlington

April 10, 2006

  Vietnamese flag display sparks controversy at UT-Arlington
Wed Apr 5, 5:49 PM (Star-Telegram News)

ARLINGTON — An annual festival aimed at celebrating international brotherhood sparked controversy at the University of Texas at Arlington this week when students disagreed with administrators over which flag should represent Vietnam.

Administrators would not allow the yellow-and-red flag of South Vietnam to be displayed at International Week. Instead, the current red flag with a yellow star was displayed to represent the southeast Asian country.

The yellow flag with three red stripes was banned by the communist government in 1975 in one of the final moves to solidify its victory of the American-supported South Vietnamese government.

University officials said they used Vietnam’s current flag to follow their policy of only using flags recognized by the United Nations.

Some Vietnamese immigrants and Vietnamese-American students said they are offended.

Tom Ha, a Vietnamese activist, said that members of the Vietnamese community might stage a protest on campus.

“Many students were very distraught over this, and two girls were crying [Monday] night during the emergency meeting of the community to get a resolution to this problem,” Ha said, adding that about 30 people attended the meeting.

He said that displaying the Vietnamese flag in front of people who fled the oppression of the communist government is like parading the swastika in front of Jews.

Ha was one of many who called the university to complain and who talked to Associate Provost Michael Moore.

“I understand it’s emotional,” Moore said. “None of us are denying the pain, the tremendous human rights violations.”

But, he said, the university has a policy of only displaying flags that are recognized by the U.N. at the festival.

“This is not a political issue for us,” Moore said. “We’ve got the Chinese flag and the Taiwanese don’t like that and vice versa.”

Huong Duong, a junior majoring in biology, said the International Student Office asked her to participate in International Week under the current Vietnamese flag.

“That offended me,” she said. “I’m incapable of doing that because that’s not what I stand for.”

Duong said that she will continue to participate in International Week, which ends Friday, but that she has distanced herself from the current Vietnamese flag.

Duong said both flags should be allowed to be displayed.

“Personally, I really don’t care what they do with their flag. I want to show my flag,” she said.

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