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November 20, 1969

North Vietnam Politburo Resolution No. 194-NQ/TW, On Policy Toward Captured American Pilots in North Vietnam

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Politburo Resolution No. 194-NQ/TW, 20 November 1969


On Policy Toward Captured American Pilots in North Vietnam


1.  Our humanitarian policy toward American pilots is aimed at further illuminating our just cause in order to win over the American people, support our enemy proselytism operations, and win the sympathy of world opinion for our people’s resistance war against the Americans to save the nation.


Even though we do not view American pilots as prisoners of war and we are not bound by the terms of the 1949 Geneva Convention governing the treatment of prisoners of war, we should apply the points of the Geneva Convention that are consistent with our humanitarian policies.


2.  For that reason, we must fully implement the following points:



  • Provisions for their daily lives (food, clothing, medicine) should be maintained at the current levels.



  • Their places of detention must be clean and airy.  A program should be implemented to allow them to exercise and work in order to help them maintain their health.



  • With regard to political education, we should study appropriate goals and subjects, with the primary focus on making them understand the goals and the justice of our people’s cause of resisting the Americans to save the nation, to understand the humanitarian policies of our government, and to cause them to respect the regulations of our prison camps.



  • With regard to mail, they should be allowed to send one letter a month, and they should be allowed to receive gifts once every two months.  This must be properly organized, implemented, and inspected in order to ensure that the mail is delivered fully and quickly.  Inspection of gifts should be focused primarily on preventing the receipt of weapons, explosives, anesthetics, and poisons.



  • From now until early 1970, we should gradually allow the American pilots that we are currently detaining in secret to contact their families by sending postcards.



  • The personal effects of the pilots must be properly stored and maintained so that they can be returned to them in the future, or, in the event that the prisoner dies, to be returned to their families.  Items that have been misplaced should be looked for and recovered so that they can be properly maintained for future return.



  • As for the issue of religious services, arrangements should be made for them to attend church services regularly. We should assign a number of good [reliable] Catholic priests or Protestant pastors (depending on the prisoners’ religion) to this task in order to combine holding church services with our efforts to educate them.



  • With regards to the graves of those who have died, they need to be concentrated into a number of central locations to facilitate administration and so that later we can return the remains to their families.



3.  In addition to strengthening the forces assigned to handle the American pilots, we need to ensure that the cadres and enlisted men directly responsible for this task fully understand the political significance of our policy toward the pilots in order to increase their spirit of responsibility so that they will strive to overcome difficulties and will fully implement the policy provisions outlined in this resolution.


4.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Political Department will study the possibility of allowing the Red Cross Associations of some countries to visit the prisoners.


For the Politburo

[signed] Nguyen Duy Trinh

North Vietnam Communist Party resolution containing detailed instructions for improving the treatment and living conditions of American prisoners of war.

Document Information


Nguyen Quy, Editor, Van Kien Dang Qoan Tap, 30, 1969 [Collected Party Documents, Volume 30, 1969] (Hanoi: National Political Publishing House, 2004), pages 303-305. Translated for CWIHP by Merle Pribbenow.


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