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Diem Appeals to Viet Cong to Lay Down Arms

Apr. 16, 1963 - South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem (center) broadcast an impassioned appeal to Communist Viet Cong guerrillas today to lay down their arms. He promised clemency, family reunions, financial help, and Government jobs. He made the appeal in a nationwide radio broadcast in which he proclaimed a sweeping Government campaign, called “Open Arms,” aimed at inducing the Viet Cong and its sympathizers to surrender and end the long civil war. The opening of the campaign was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the “strategic hamlet” program. The program, underwritten by the U.S., has armed villagers and isolated them from the Viet Cong in many parts of the country. The President urged the insurgents to “return and uphold the just cause of the fatherland and to contribute your efforts along with those of all our people in order to build, in a militant spirit, a new society and civilization where every citizen will be able to develop totally and in full freedom.” U.S. military observers in Saigon believe there is no chance the Viet Cong will voluntarily discontinue their war on the South Vietnamese Government.


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