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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Vietnam and WFTU mourn the death of French anti-imperialist militant Raymonde Dien

Dien -- Vietnam's "great friend" -- famously went to jail for 10 months for lying across rail tracks in 1950 to stop a French military convoy headed to Indochina.

Monument to Raymonde Dien in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Photo via Dezidor

The Communist Party of Vietnam's Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations has extended its condolences to the French Communist Party after the death of its member and famed anti-imperialist militant Raymonde Dien on August 19 at the age of 93. They also extended condolences to her family. The Vietnamese news service VietnamPlus described her as "Vietnam’s great friend".

The World Federation of Trade Unions also issued a statement expressing their condolences as well.

Dien was most famous for her tremendously courageous act in February, 1950 when she lay down on rail tracks to stop a French rail military convoy with equipment and arms headed to Indochina to fight against Vietnamese independence. As the WFTU statement notes:

It was on February 23, 1950 that the worker militant Raymonde Dien opposed, at the call of the French Communist Party, a rail convoy of armored vehicles at the Saint-Pierre-Des-Corps station on its way to Indochina, where the French army was waging a relentless colonial war against the Viet Minh. Many anti-imperialist militants, including Raymonde, lied down on the tracks to prevent the departure of the train. The only woman to wear pants, Raymonde was identified, denounced, and arrested by the police the same evening. Her trial began in Bordeaux, on May 31, before a military court, where she was accused of “destroying the property of the army”, a crime punishable by capital punishment. A national and international campaign spearheaded by the PCF and the CGT began, seeking to free Raymonde Dien, who became the symbol of the struggles of the working class and the youth against the war in Indochina; a campaign in which the WFTU affiliates would take their full part (motions, letters, rallies, demonstrations). Raymonde would finally be sentenced to 1 year in prison and 15 years of forfeiture of her civil rights (prohibition to vote, to be part of a jury and to apply for a job as a civil servant). Released after 10 months, at Christmas 1950, Raymonde Dien, now world famous, would continue her fight for peace and against oppression.

Dien met Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi in 1956.

VNA file photo

She was also awarded Vietnam's Friendship Order in 2004.

A monument to Dien was erected in Leningrad's Victory Park in 1953.

In 2010 she was awarded the medal of honor of the city of Saint-Pierre. You can watch a video of the ceremony here: RECEPTION OF RAYMONDE DIEN IN SAINT-PIERRE DES CORPS ON FEBRUARY 27, 2010



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