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Vietnam admits Ho Chi Minh request for cremation denied

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Vietnam's leadership admitted Thursday altering the last testament of revered leader Ho Chi Minh, falsifying the date of his death and defying his wish to be cremated.

A communique signed by Communist Party leader Nguyen Van Linh said the full final testiment of Ho, including additions made in 1969, were being made public this year coincident with the 100th anniversary of his birth and the 20th anniversary of his death.

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Linh said the Communist Party Politburo decided to preserve Ho's remains instead of following his wish to be cremated so that Vietnamese from the defeated south and foreigners could pay their respects to him.

Ho had requested that his ashes be placed in three urns, one each for northern, central and southern Vietnam. Instead, his mummified remains are enclosed in a glass-covered casket housed in a huge mausoleum in Hanoi.

Linh wrote that the Politburo also decided to announce that Ho died on Sept. 3, 1969 instead of his actual date of death, Sept. 2, because Sept. 2 is Vietnam' s national day. He said the leaders falsified the date 'to prevent the date of Uncle Ho's death from coinciding with the day of great national rejoicing.'

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He said party leaders decided not to implement Ho's request for a one-year moratorium on agricultural taxes because of 'the lack of proper conditions.' He said thecabinet was instructed to work out a plan, more than 20 years later, to give the tax exemption.

He said other alterations and omissions were made because of the war with the United States.

At one point Ho wrote: 'the anti-U.S. war of resistance may drag on for a few more years' but the leadership changed that to 'the anti-u.s. resistance may drag on.'

Linh called on the people, party and government 'to satisfactorily implement Uncle Ho's recommendations -- so as to fulfill his wishes and to prove ourselves worthy of his memory.'

Ho is revered as a communist saint in Vietnam where hopes for rapid economic and social progress after the end of the war in 1975 have not materialized.

Ho founded the Vietnamese Communist Party and led its struggle for independence from France and for victory over the U.S.-backed government of South Vietnam.

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