Hanoi suffer because of “City for Peace” title

VietNamNet Bridge – Eleven years have passed since Hanoi was conferred the title “City for Peace” but the city is still struggling to meet the standards of a “City for Peace”.

On July 16, 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presented the title “City for Peace” to Hanoi because the city met the following criteria: Exemplary action against exclusion and in support of the dialogue between communities; Exemplary urban action; Exemplary environmental action; Exemplary action to promote culture; Exemplary action in the field of education and especially civic education.

Hanoi is the only city in Asia-Pacific that was granted this title.

Eleven years have passed but the city is still struggling to achieve the above criteria.

The author of this article once shared a table with a British tourist couple at a restaurant facing the Hoan Kiem Lake and she had to try her best to explain the meaning of a lot of slogans hung up around the lake.

Among them were a big board with the slogan “Hanoi – city for peace” and a lot of banners and boards placed on pillars, on boards, on trees, etc.

The British couple wondered if there was any time when the lake was free from slogans and banners? “We want to take pictures of the lake only,” they said.

Before they came to Vietnam, they searched the web for information about Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake, its meaning and its romantic atmosphere but they didn’t know so many things were hung around the lake.

The author didn’t know when the lake was free from slogan banners.

“It seems that Hanoi still applies the propaganda style of the mid 20th century. Though the society has entered the 21st century and has changed a lot but slogans used in 1945 and 1954 are still hung around the city. both designs and content have not changed to fit the modern times,” said Dr. Nguyen Van Huy, former director of the Vietnam Ethnology Museum, a member of the National Heritage Council.

During the city’s 1000th anniversary, all of its “specialties” were shown, including the title “City for Peace”. As a “city for peace”, it must have doves. One thousand goves were gathered to be released with balloons on the great anniversary, carrying the meaningful message of a 1000-year-old city.

Half a month after the anniversary, over half of them died because of diseases, being caught and sold to restaurants.

The dove owner, artisan Pham Tai Thu, was very saddened seeing his birds die. “I was told that after the great anniversary, apart from 200 pigeons which were released at the My Dinh Stadium, the remaining 800 pigeons would be bred in the Hanoi Botanical Garden and at the Hoa Binh Park to create big flocks. But now most of my birds have died or have been stolen,” Thu said.

After that case, more pigeons were released at the Long Bien Bridge Festival on November 20. Sadly, “ambassadors of peace” were soon caught by as “food”.

The city authorities exerted efforts to build and restore cinemas, theatres and public entertainment facilities to celebrate the city’s 1000th birthday but the quality of these works is questionable.

Experts said that these works should be built based on the development of the capital city, not to set up in a hurry just to welcome the city’s 1000th birthday.

In the last 11 years, criteria of “city for peace” have not been truly met. Hanoians still have to live with dust, rubbish and environmental pollution.

Hoang Huong