Query: HO [Humanitarian Offensive]

Query: HO [Humanitarian Offensive]

Mar 2000, Dan Duffy wrote:

In the classifieds, on the radio, in novels, in conversation, I keep tripping over the term "HO."
I had not noticed it before last month and don't understand it. It seems to be a program like ODP, the Orderly Departure Program. It has been glossed to me as "Humanitarian Offensive."
Is that right? What nation's program is it? When was it in effect? Who qualified for it?

To: "Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: query: HO

Dear Dan and all:

Now that you have found an answer for HO, how about OB?

A couple of years ago, I asked a friend of mine in VN if his elder relative had gone to the US under the HO category ("die^.n HO", as people say in Vietnamese -- see explanation by Ann Marie). He then said to me that his relative did not qualify himself for "die^.n HO" (apparently he was not in the re-education camp long enough (!) for the 3-year (?) qualified period), and presently "is only waiting to go under die^.n OB".

Caught by surprise, I naively asked him: "Is there also a category called OB, I have never heard of this term". My friend then said: "O^B stand for 'o^ng ba(grave)' (i.e. ancestors), my relative is too ill now, he is waiting only 'to visit his ancestors. That's the term people now use to refer to people like my relative'". A Vietnamese way of creating words, indeed.


>At 02:44 PM 3/3/00 -0800, you wrote:
> I believe it stands for Humanitarian Operation, which was a program agreed
> upon between the U.S. and Vietnam for former re-education camp prisoners to
> come out of Vietnam legally to the U.S. As I recall the criteria were length
> of detention (I believe a minimum of three years) and reason for detention
> (primarily applied to those who had been arrested in 1975 for their
> association with the RVN government or army). I believe families of the
> former prisoners were allowed to leave Vietnam as well under the HO program.
> Some prisoners of conscience (by Amnesty International definition) have also
> emigrated legally from Vietnam to the U.S., in some cases directly from the
> prison camps in which they had been detained, such as Doan Viet Hoat or Doan
> Thanh Liem. I think it would be more correct to say in their cases that they
> were exiled from Vietnam since the alternative to leaving was continued
> imprisonment or house arrest. I am not sure if the POC's who left were
> officially doing so under the HO program.
> To my recollection the HO program began around ten years ago, and was part
> of an overall effort to ease the boat people crisis, by allowing those who
> might have political reasons for leaving Vietnam to do so legally, while
> repatriating Vietnamese asylum seekers who had been screened out in Hong
> Kong or Southeast Asian countries as "economic migrants." I am not sure if
> the HO program is still in effect.
> - Steve Denney

At 07:16 PM 3/3/00 -0500, Hue Tam H. Tai wrote:
I think that Ann Marie is right about the meaning of HO. Vietnamese say Hac O and it applies only to high-ranking military officers of ARVN, not just anybody who served a long period of detention in reeducation. Because of their high-ranking status, they were presumed to be targets of repression, so were allowed to seek relocation in the US legally under the ODP.

From: Stephen R Denney <sdenney@uclink4.berkeley.edu>
To: "Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: query: HO

I guess the acronym has different meanings in Vietnam and the U.S. But it isn't confined to former high ranking ARVN officers. It applies to those Vietnamese who were detained for three years or more in re-education camps because of their association with the U.S. government. Below is an excerpt from a U.S. State Dept. fact sheet issued last June supporting the Jackson-Vanik trade waiver:


Program for Former Re-education Camp Detainees: Under this program, popularly known as the "HO" program, eligible applicants must have been detained for at least three years in a re-education camp because of their association with the U.S. Government. As of May 24, 1999, there were only 287 HO cases involving 1,480 individuals who had not yet been interviewed by the INS. A sub-group of the HO program consists of applicants covered by the "McCain Amendment," which includes eligible persons over the age of 21 who are the sons and daughters of former re-education camp detainees who were approved for admission to the United States as refugees after April 1, 1995. As of May 24, 1999, there were 558 cases which remained eligible for consideration under the program which expires at the end of this fiscal year. The primary obstacle to processing of the remaining HO and McCain Amendment caseloads is failure of the applicants to apply to the Vietnamese government for exit permission.

- Steve Denney

From: dduffy@email.unc.edu (Dan Duffy)
To: "Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: H.O.

Eric Henry is having difficulty posting to the list, so I forward this from him:

Dear participants in the H.O. discussion,

The novel *Chnh Khch* by Nguyen Goc Ngan has a Vietnamese translation of the term H.O. (p. 9, second line from bottom). It is: "chien dich nhan dao" (chi/n di.ch nhn dda.o). Since "chien dich" means "a military campaign," I suppose the letters might stand either for "humanitarian operation" or "humanitarian offensive." "Humanitarian campaign" might be a candidate also, but "campaign" doesn't begin with an "o."

Best regards,
Eric Henry

From: Chuong Chung <cchung@ccsf.cc.ca.us>
To: "Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: query: HO

dear Dan,

HO is Humanitarian Operation a program set up between US and Vietnam about re-education internees. Secretary of State George Schultz signed an agreement which allow the admission of these former internees with at least 3 years of incarceration in a known re-education camp (Trai Cai Tao) They could qualify as refugees and receive resettlement support and access to programs (i.e ESL, job training, and job development)

Check Van Khoa Bookstore in the Phuoc Loc Tho Mall (otherwise known as the Three Amigos mall)

Chung Hoang Chuong

From: joseph j hannah <jhannah@u.washington.edu>
To: "Vietnam Studies Group" <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: query: HO


I asked an ODP staffer in Saigon about the "HO" designation in about 1995. He told me that it was never an official US designation, but rather a term used exclusively by Vietnamese. He was not clear whether it was created by his Vietnamese counterparts, or by the applicants themselves.

Applicants told me that the term was American in origin, indicating that the Vietnamese government probably did not manufacture it. One applicant told me that the letters "H.O." were on the top of the American application form, but I could not confirm this.

It seems that "HO" may be a popular -- rather than "official" or "bureaucratic" -- term.

Let me know if you find out more -- I have been curious for several years now.

Joe Hannah