Nguyễn Văn Lém
|Nguyễn Văn Lém|
1 February 1968 (aged 36)|
Republic of Vietnam
|Allegiance||National Liberation Front of South Vietnam|
|Spouse(s)||Nguyễn Thị Lộp|
Nguyễn Văn Lém (referred to as Captain Bảy Lốp or Ew Tu) (1931 or 1932 – 1 February 1968) was a member of the National Liberation Front who was summarily executed in Saigon by General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan during the Tet Offensive. The execution was captured on film by photojournalist Eddie Adams. The execution was explained at the time as being the consequence of Lém's admitted guerrilla activity and war crimes, and otherwise due to a general "wartime mentality".
On the second day of the Tet Offensive, amid fierce street fighting, Lém was captured and brought to Brigadier General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan, Chief of the Republic of Vietnam National Police. Using his personal .38 revolver, General Loan summarily executed Lém in front of AP photographer Eddie Adams and NBC television cameraman Vo Suu. The photograph and footage were broadcast worldwide, galvanizing the anti-war movement; Adams won a 1969 Pulitzer Prize for his photograph.
South Vietnamese sources said that Lém commanded a Viet Cong insurgent team, which on that day had targeted South Vietnamese National Police officers, or in their stead, the police officers' families. Corroborating this, Lém was captured at the site of a mass grave that included the bodies of at least seven police family members. Photographer Adams confirmed the South Vietnamese account, although he was only present for the execution. Lém's widow confirmed that her husband was a member of the National Liberation Front and she did not see him after the Tet Offensive began. Shortly after the execution, a South Vietnamese official who had not been present said that Lém was only a political operative.
Military lawyers have not agreed whether Loan's action violated the Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war (Lém had not been wearing a proper uniform; nor was he, it is alleged, fighting enemy soldiers at the time), where POW status was granted independently of the laws of war; it was limited to National Liberation Front seized during military operations.
- Phan Thi Kim Phuc – Another iconic image from the Vietnam War.
- Thich Quang Duc – A Vietnamese monk whose self-immolation was caught on photography
- "Nguyen Ngoc Loan, 67, Dies; Executed Viet Cong Prisoner". The New York Times. 1998-07-16. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
But when Brig. General Nguyen Ngoc Loan raised his pistol on Feb. 1, 1968, extended his arm and fired a bullet through the head of the prisoner, who stood with his hands tied behind his back, the general did so in full view of an NBC cameraman and an Associated Press photographer.
- Major General George S. Prugh (1975). "Prisoners of War and War Crimes". Law at War: Vietnam 1964–1973. Vietnam Studies. United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
- Account of the execution and photograph spoken by the photographer Eddie Adams.
- The Saigon Execution, a thorough account by an AP photo editor including research after the war.
- Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém