Archives par mot-clé : camp de travail

Patrick Heuveline : La mémoire des corps : Conséquences sanitaires du régime khmer rouge – Phnom Penh, 4 avril 2017

[ndlr] Annonce d’une prochaine conférence à Phnom Penh dans le cycle des Conférences « Temps, Espace, Mémoire » IRASEC organisé par Anne Yvonne Guillou, anthropologue CNRS / IRASEC, Phnom Penh, 4 avril 2017.

La mémoire des corps : Conséquences sanitaires du régime khmer rouge

Patrick Heuveline, Professeur au département de Sociologie à l’UCLA


Mardi 4 avril à 18h30


Conférence en français traduite en khmer et en anglais
Entrée libre

Les rations alimentaires distribuées durant le régime khmer rouge aux groupes de population déportés étaient insuffisantes au vu des dépenses physiques liées au travail forcé et ont conduit à une malnutrition généralisée. L’invasion vietnamienne qui a chassé les Khmers Rouges du pouvoir a aussi perturbé la récolte et, avec des stocks de nourriture réduits, une famine s’en est suivie. Les preuves les plus flagrantes de ces effets de la malnutrition ont été réunies à propos des famines en Europe aux 19e et 20e siècles. Toutefois, le Cambodge présente un cas très différent de celui des pays européens.

Source : Institut Français Cambodge

Institut français du Cambodge
218 rue 184 – BP 827 – Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0) 23 213 124 / 125

Bounsang Khamkeo : I, Little Slave – CR de lecture par Maureen Éon

BounsangKhamkeo_I_LittleSlaveI, Little Slave est un témoignage important sur le Laos des années 1970-1980. Les récits personnels de cette époque étant relativement rares, Bounsang Khamkeo nous livre un précieux regard sur une période méconnue de l’histoire contemporaine du Laos. Il analyse les conséquences politiques de la prise de pouvoir par les communistes et les répercussions tragiques de cet événement historique sur sa vie personnelle.

Né dans une famille relativement aisée, il quitte le Laos à l’âge de dix-sept ans pour faire ses études en France, où il obtient un doctorat de sciences politiques de l’université de Toulouse. Son récit commence au moment où il retourne dans son pays en 1973. Il est installé à Vientiane lorsque le Pathet Lao prend le pouvoir en 1975. Arrêté par les forces communistes en juin 1981, il passe sept ans de sa vie en captivité avant d’être libéré en septembre 1988. Il choisit l’exil vers les États-Unis en mars 1989, estimant dès lors devoir témoigner publiquement de son expérience. Il en résulte cet ouvrage conséquent, dans lequel il cherche à livrer avec sincérité son passé difficile de captif du Pathet Lao.

Un regard interne sur la prise du pouvoir du Pathet Lao

Dans un premier temps, Bounsang Khamkeo nous fournit une description relativement détaillée de l’histoire du Laos depuis la colonisation française jusqu’en 1973, l’année de son retour au pays qui est marquée par le traité de Vientiane censé apaiser les tensions entre le gouvernement royal et les partisans communistes. L’esprit rempli de notions politiques et idéologiques acquises lors de ses études en France, Bounsang Khamkeo estime que seules les forces neutres peuvent contribuer à rééquilibrer le régime, entre une extrême-droite jugée trop corrompue et une gauche qui utilise des moyens politiques trop extrêmes.

L’auteur nous décrit sa redécouverte du Laos après ses quelques années d’absence. Il se dit frappé par la pauvreté, mais affirme cependant retrouver avec bonheur son attachement au pays. Sa propre opinion quant au régime politique en place ne transparaît indirectement qu’à certains passages du livre, et c’est davantage à travers ses interlocuteurs que Bounsang Khamkeo donne quelques pistes sur le ressenti d’une partie de la population face aux changements récents et à venir.

Quelques mois après son arrivé, il s’installe à Vientiane, et obtient un poste au Ministère des Affaires Étrangères. Sa présence dans la capitale lui permet de se rendre compte de la transformation politique sur le point de s’opérer : il décrit comment le Pathet Lao parvient à séduire les foules chaque jour davantage, non seulement grâce à leur apparente union et cohérence face à une droite morcelée, mais aussi grâce à la proximité sociale qui le rend plus accessible et plus humble aux yeux des Laotiens.

Les événements de 1975 au Vietnam et au Cambodge vont précipiter le changement au Laos. L’agitation qui naît ainsi à Vientiane nous est décrite à travers le regard de l’auteur, qui voit les étudiants inscrire sur les murs de nombreux slogans anti-impérialistes, et qui doit participer malgré lui aux manifestations anti-américaines. Bounsang Khamkeo nous explique également comment la confusion gagne certains groupes : des militaires de l’armée royale choisissent de se ranger aux côtés du Pathet Lao, quelques ministres des forces politiques de droite préfèrent démissionner, de nombreux marchands fuient vers la Thaïlande. La capitale est définitivement aux mains du Pathet Lao le 22 août 1975. S’ensuit une dynamique communiste qui se met très rapidement en marche, avec l’instauration de comités de quartier, de meetings politiques où chacun doit témoigner d’une expérience malheureuse vécue à cause d’une personne jugée « bourgeoise ». L’auteur n’échappe pas à ce climat, nous livrant un regard interne sur les moyens employés par les forces communistes dans leur mainmise progressive sur la population.

En 1977 Bounsang Khamkeo se voit proposer un poste au sein du Comité d’Intérim du Mékong, un organe intergouvernemental chargé à l’origine du développement régional entre le Laos et la Thaïlande. Suite à un conflit avec le président de ce comité, une personnalité influente en très bon termes avec le Pathet Lao, l’auteur sera injustement conduit en garde à vue, puis fait prisonnier. Il finit par être définitivement arrêté et conduit en camp de travail en juin 1981.

« Si c’était possible d’être heureux en prison, alors je l’étais »

Bounsang Khamkeo a été incarcéré dans deux camps de travail différents. Le premier, connu sous le nom de « Falaise Rouge », se situe au nord du pays, près de la frontière vietnamienne. La force du récit de sa détention tient dans sa volonté de conserver une certaine distance émotionnelle vis-à-vis de son expérience. En effet, il décrit d’une façon relativement objective les conditions déplorables dans lesquelles lui et ses compagnons étaient contraints de vivre, sans jamais tomber dans une forme d’apitoiement qui aurait pu naître par la nature même du récit. Certes, Bounsang Khamkeo est touché par ce qu’il voit et par ce qu’il vit, mais à la lecture on ne ressent aucun sentiment de plainte ni une volonté de susciter l’empathie.

Au fur et à mesure de son témoignage, le choc initial se fond dans un récit presque banal. L’exercice de mémoire auquel l’auteur se livre est ici intéressant à identifier : on a le sentiment qu’il se ré-accoutume progressivement pendant l’écriture aux conditions de vie difficiles qui étaient les siennes. L’accent est davantage mis sur les événements que sur la description de son quotidien de prisonnier, et les repères de temps sont de moins en moins présents, mis à part le 26 décembre 1984, jour où il est transféré dans un second camp de détention, le « Sop Hao numéro 7 ».

Sa tâche principale du deuxième temps de son incarcération était de s’occuper de l’élevage de buffles d’eau du camp. Le ton qu’il emploie lorsqu’il décrit ce travail est relativement posé, voire optimiste. De la même façon, à ce moment-là du récit il n’évoque quasiment plus les conditions de vie du camp, qui semblaient pourtant tout autant difficiles que celles de la Falaise Rouge. Il s’attache à souligner les éléments positifs de son quotidien, jusqu’à finir par affirmer qu’il se considérait comme heureux.

Le processus de sa libération s’enclenchera progressivement à partir de mai 1987, lorsqu’une délégation d’enquête du Ministère de l’Intérieur arrive au camp Sop Hao numéro 7. À cette occasion, chaque prisonnier est chargé d’écrire sa confession, et se voit interrogé individuellement. L’entretien entre les officiels et Bounsang Khamkeo se déroule relativement à l’avantage de ce dernier, qui sera libéré en septembre 1988.

À son retour, il apprend que sa femme n’a cessé de faire tout ce qui était en son pouvoir pour prouver l’innocence de son mari, jouant ainsi un rôle dans sa libération par l’intermédiaire d’un jeu de relations. Si Bounsang Khamkeo décrit son bonheur de retourner auprès des siens, il ne cache pas être désagréablement surpris par le climat de surveillance et de méfiance politique qui règne dans la capitale. En aucun cas il ne doit mentionner son expérience en camp de travail, et il se rend compte qu’il est suivi dans ses moindres mouvements par son ancien ennemi. La pression exercée sur lui est telle qu’il choisit finalement de partir pour les États-Unis, en se donnant pour mission finale de raconter son expérience pour ne pas qu’elle sombre dans l’oubli, comme l’auraient souhaité les communistes du Pathet Lao.

Un réel travail de distanciation

Dans ce témoignage très complet et sans aucune prétention, Bounsang Khamkeo s’est attaché à décrire chaque situation de la façon la plus neutre et la plus honnête possible. Le ton est sincère, les souvenirs aussi. Une telle prise de distance est louable dans la mesure où, dans cet exercice de mémoire, l’auteur a réussi à séparer ses propres souvenirs de leur portée émotionnelle. L’ensemble est écrit dans un style qui reste très agréable du début à la fin des quatre cents pages du livre.

L’une des qualités de l’ouvrage réside également dans l’absence de jugement de valeur envers ceux qui auraient pu se voir attribuer le mauvais rôle de l’histoire, à savoir les communistes du Pathet Lao. Bounsang Khamkeo ne les accuse jamais directement d’être la cause de son malheur, s’abstenant ainsi de faire de son livre un plaidoyer contre le communisme. Il n’explique sa position que brièvement en début de récit lorsqu’il s’avoue peu convaincu par les théoriciens du socialisme. Dans la suite de l’ouvrage, son opinion apparaît en filigrane au travers des épisodes qu’il choisit de raconter, et non dans le ton qu’il emploie pour parler du Pathet Lao. Il décrit par exemple les brutalités policières dont il est témoin, les réunions politiques publiques forçant à la dénonciation, ainsi que les répercussions économiques concrètes de l’installation du pouvoir communiste. Bien que de tels faits soient relatés de façon volontairement neutre, le choix de les raconter et d’y accorder une certaine importance renseigne le lecteur sur les propres sentiments de l’auteur.

La richesse de son témoignage demeure donc intacte. Bounsang Khamkeo a réussi à en faire non seulement un outil précieux pour les historiens, mais aussi un ouvrage abordable à destination du grand public.

Maureen Éon, promotion ASIOC 2014-2015.

Réf. : Bounsang Khamkeo, I little slave: a prison memoir from communist Laos, Spokane, Washington: Eastern Washington University Press, 2006, 422 p.

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Maureen Éon est étudiante à l’École Normale Supérieure (ENS) de Lyon, au sein du master Asie Orientale Contemporaine. Ses recherches portent actuellement sur l’éducation de la diaspora chinoise de Malaisie.

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Pour en savoir plus :

Malay Phcar : Une enfance en enfer – Cambodge, 17 avril 1975 – 8 mars 1980 [2005]

« J’ai écrit ce livre pour témoigner de l’horreur du régime khmer rouge en espérant que la folie des hommes ne les conduirait plus jamais à de telles extrémités. »

Le 17 avril 1945, les Khmers rouges prennent Phnom Penh et donnent l’ordre insensé d’évacuer ses trois millions d’habitants. Pour Malay Phcar, qui vivait dans la capitale cambodgienne une enfance heureuse avec ses huit frères et sœurs, commence le long exode vers la « rééducation rurale ». Sur la route jonchée de cadavres qui le mène en exil avec sa famille et des centaines de milliers d’autres, il comprend mal ce qui est en train de se passer : il n’a que neuf ans. L’exode est long, épuisant. Les Phcar sont déplacés de village en village, à pieds ou dans des wagons à bestiaux.

En route, ils sont séparés de la sœur aînée, la préférée de Malay. Dans le village ou la famille est finalement assignée, commence une progressive descente aux enfers. Malay découvre le manque d’hygiène, la famine, le mépris affiché des Khmers rouges pour la vie humaine ; il voit les liens sociaux se désagréger devant la misère et les morts successives. Une seule obsession chasse toutes les autres : manger pour survivre. Bientôt, la maladie et l’épuisement lui enlèvent son père et sa mère. Il est ensuite séparé de ses frères. Envoyé en camp de travail, il lutte jour après jour pour survivre à ce régime barbare.

Ce que Malay ignore alors, c’est que le système, miné de l’intérieur, est en totale déliquescence. Bientôt, l’armée vietnamienne vient chasser les Khmers rouges, apportant au jeune garçon et à ses deux petits frères survivants l’espoir incrédule de la liberté.Pourtant, c’est un autre exil aveugle, dans lequel leur plus jeune frère disparaîtra, qui attend les survivants, car le pays est livré aux combats. Un exil qui continuera à mener Malay de camp en camp, vers les restes d’une famille qui le rejette, puis vers une Thaïlande qui repousse les Cambodgiens affamés. Malay réussit pourtant à entrer en Thaïlande, et là, ce sont finalement les retrouvailles avec la sœur disparue et le départ pour la France et la liberté. La fin d’une errance de quatre ans, qui aura décimé quasiment toute sa famille et fait de son enfance un enfer. [Présentation de l’éditeur]

Source : Robert Laffont

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Malay Phcar est né en 1964 dans une famille cultivée, chrétienne, particulièrement exposée à la répression des Khmers rouges suite à la prise de Phnom Penh, au Cambodge, en 1975. Dans ce témoignage bouleversant, il raconte son enfance saccagée par les révolutionnaires : c’est en effet à l’âge de neuf ans qu’il est déporté avec toute sa famille dans un camp de « rééducation rurale ». A la clé, la perte de ses proches, la famine, le travail forcé, la maladie, l’épuisement, la solitude, la déshumanisation, le désespoir et la folie… Cruel destin pour un enfant habité d’une extraordinaire force, celle qui lui permettra de survivre et de ne pas définitivement sombrer. Le lecteur sera ici frappé par l’émotion qui se dégage de la voix de celui qui raconte son enfance en enfer, jusqu’en 1980, année où Malay viendra se réfugier en France en compagnie d’un frère et d’une sœur rescapés. Une enfance en enfer est le deuxième livre de Malay Phcar, après L’Enfer khmer rouge (duquel Olivier Weber a tiré un documentaire, Retour au Cambodge, où Malay joue son propre personnage).[avis de la FNAC]

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Extraits :

« On a marché toute la journée. Enfin, je ne sais pas si on appelle cela marcher. On avance comme on peut dans une cohue incroyable (…). Soudain, j’aperçois quelqu’un qui dort dans la vase. Je trouve ça curieux et je le montre à Naron (…). Naron me répond qu’il ne dort pas, il est mort.  Il est mort ? J’appelle maman (…).  Je scrute le lit du fleuve. Il y en a d’autres, qu’on ne voit pas tout de suite. Des corps parfois recroquevillés, parfois avec la tête qui pend en arrière, à moitié recouverts de boue séchée. Je me demande pourquoi il y a tous ces morts et pourquoi on marche ainsi, pourquoi tous les habitants de la ville doivent partir (….) ».

« Au début, je ne comprenais pas pourquoi maman s’intéressait au nombre de corbeaux dans le ciel. En fait, c’était un nom de code pour désigner les Khmers Rouges. Depuis, on les appelle tous ainsi. Luc m’a expliqué tout bas, à l’oreille, qu’il faut se méfier des espions, les schlop, ces petits mouchards qui écoutent les conversations. Ils vont ensuite dénoncer les gens aux Khmers Rouges qui viennent alors les arrêter (…).

Phong Sithean a été dénoncé. On se regarde tous. Qui a pu faire une chose pareille ? (…).

En fin d’après-midi, une dizaine d’hommes et de femmes en noir sont venus perquisitionner les maisons. Ils ont rassemblés sur la place les sacs de riz qu’ils ont trouvés et les ont emportés. Nous sommes tous des traîtres (…). On va mourir de faim « .

Source : voyagesmillebornes

Réf. : Phcar, Malay, Une enfance en enfer : Cambodge, 17 avril 1975-8 mars 1980, Paris, J’ai Lu, Robert Laffont, cop. 2005, 282 p. (réédition en poche de 2007)

Expériences de rééducation au Laos (RDPL)

[ndlr] Les mémoires sur l’histoire contemporaine du Laos sont suffisamment rares pour être signalés. Ces dernières années, trois récits d’anciens prisonniers (et rescapés) des camps de rééducation en République démocratique populaire lao (RDPL) ont été publiés en langue anglaise. Nous remercions notre collègue Vatthana Pholsena pour nous avoir indiquer l’existence de ces ouvrages dont le plus riche est celui de Bousang Khamkeo publié en 2006 mentionné dans la bibliographie du séminaire.

  • Bounsang Khamkeo, I Little Slave. Washington: Eastern Washington University Press, 2006.

Raised in the hierarchical society of traditional Laos, Bounsang Khamkeo earned his doctorate in political science in France and returned home in 1973 to a country in political chaos in the wake of the Vietnam War. He worked for the government until 1981 before being imprisoned by the communist Pathet Lao government after running afoul of a politically ambitious boss. I Little Slave is the account of his seven-year struggle in prison to stay alive and keep sane in spite of harsh physical privation and endless psychological abuse. Khamkeo’s story is a moving and important one at a time when political oppression and crimes against human rights are on the rise throughout the world.

  • Khamphanh Thammakhanty, Get to the Trunk, Destroy the Roots: The Fall from Monarchy to Socialism. Portland, 2004, publication à compte d’auteur.

The book covers five topics. From the introduction: A brief history of Laos; the political maneuvering during the last two years prior to the overthrow of the Lao royalty and the fall of its rightist government; the dispatch of prisoners to the various concentration camps; the direct and indirect forms of punishment imposed on the defeated Lao people; additional information on daily life at Sop Hao Prison.

  • Nakhonkham Bouphanouvong, Sixteen years in the Land of Death: Revolution and Reeducation in Laos. Bangkok: White Lotus, 2003.

Sixteen Years in the Land of Death: Revolution and Reeducation in Laos, is the account of the life of Nakhonkham Bouphanouvong, a Lao man who survived incarceration from 1975 to 1991 in the communist run reeducation camps located in the province of Huaphan in northeastern Laos. During that time he suffered through hard labor, torture and near starvation along with many other high-ranking Royal Lao government and army officials, many of whom did not live to tell of their own experience. Prior to his imprisonment Nakhonkham endured three decades of civil war in Laos. He left the capital city of Vientiane and his life as a student behind in 1945 to join the nationalistic Lao Issara movement where he worked as a soldier, propagandist and writer through the 1950’s. Nakhonkham later witnessed the Lao Issara’s transformation in eastern Laos into a full-fledged communist revolution. Not convinced by the communist rhetoric, he left to join the Neutralist faction formed in the early 1960’s. With the Neutralist’s demise not long after its formation, Nakhonkham found it necessary to join the Royal Lao Government where he worked as an editor for several publications and eventually became a high-ranking police officer in Vientiane. Having come full circle, by 1975 Nakhonkham found himself on, the losing side of the civil war and lived in Laos as a political prisoner until emigrating to the United States in 1992.

Lucien Trọng : Enfer rouge, mon amour [1980]

[ndlr] Pour témoigner de son vécu en camp de rééducation, notre ami et collègue Lucien Trong a rédigé un texte fort publié en 1980 aux éditions Seuil. Depuis quelques années, il a créé le site Enfer rouge mon amour pour diffuser à titre gracieux son histoire inédite. L’ouvrage peut être ainsi téléchargé en français comme en vietnamien.

Le 30 Avril 1975, Saigon est devenu Hô-Chi-Minh Ville. La mainmise du régime communiste sur le Sud Vietnam a entraîné la création des camps de rééducation, et provoqué massivement la disparition en mer de Chine de centaines de milliers de Vietnamiens qui ont fui le régime mis en place.

Le livre « Enfer Rouge mon Amour » édité par les Editions du Seuil en 1980 est un témoignage de cette époque tragique du Vietnam, destiné à faire la lumière sur le drame derrière le rideau de bambou. La version en vietnamien « Hôi ky trai cai tao » est parue en 1983. Trente ans ont passé, mais ces drames ne sont toujours pas reconnus. Nous pouvons pardonner les erreurs, mais nous ne pouvons pas oublier.

Il nous paraît important de rétablir une vérité historique sur cette période, face à la désinformation du régime en place. Nous avons également un devoir de mémoire envers ceux qui sont morts dans les camps, à ceux qui ont péri en mer, les « boat people » sacrifiés pour que les jeunes des nouvelles générations de la diaspora vietnamienne puissent connaître la liberté. Au-delà de la guerre des idéologies, il reste la dimension humaine, et la réconciliation ne pourrait être possible que si chacun reconnaît ses torts. Pour ces raisons, nous avons décidé de mettre en ligne les deux versions de ce livre.

Nous remercions les Editions du Seuil d’avoir permis la diffusion sur Internet dans des conditions non commerciales.

Lucien Trọng

Lucien Trọng : Né en 1947 à Bentre. Assistant en agronomie à l’université de Saigon. Actuellement assistant en France au Centre technique forestier tropical.

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Résumé du livre

En 1975, quand Hô-Chi-Minh-Ville remplace Saigon, Lucien Trong est, à 28 ans, assistant à l’Université. Après un mois d’hésitation, il tente de fuir. Repris, on l’envoie dans un camp de rééducation. Pendant trois ans et demi, il connaît l’enfer quotidien des bagnards, l’amour d’une petite putain, les succès d’une troupe de théâtre de prisonniers et surtout l’amitié de Ly, un détenu qui l’aide à vivre où tant de gens meurent, qui le fait rire quand tant de gens pleurent, qui l’aime dans ce camp de haine.

Ils sont tous les deux libérés, mais plus séparés que jamais. Trong décide encore une fois de fuir. Boat-people embarqué sur un bateau qui subit les tempêtes, les typhons, les pirates, il est chassé d’île en île, ballotté de camp de réfugiés en camp de transit.

Après trois mois d’errance, il parvient à Paris. Rongé par le remords d’avoir perdu son seul ami, le seul cadeau qu’il ait reçu du goulag vietnamien. Enfer rouge, mon amour.

Lucien Trong © 1980 éditions du Seuil

Source : Enfer Rouge Mon Amour

  • Télécharger l’ouvrage en français (pdf)

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Extraits sur les conditions de vie des prisonniers

Mes compagnons couvraient un éventail social très large et constituaient un véritable échantillonnage des délits possibles et imaginables : des petits fonctionnaires, sous-officiers, officiers, ces derniers ayant évité par miracle ou par corruption les camps du Nord, des civils appréhendés en mer au cours de leur tentative d’évasion, catégorie dont je faisais partie, des personnes arrêtées pour vol, ivrognerie, bagarre; des joueurs, des «réactionnaires» pris en flagrant délit de distribution de tracts, des supposés terroristes et d’authentiques poseurs de bombes dans les lieux publics, des quidams ramassés au hasard des rafles, des intellectuels, des dirigeants de sectes bouddhistes, Hoa-Hao ou Cao-Dai, des paysans ignares dénoncés comme agents de la CIA, étiquette commode que le gouvernement populaire collait sur tous ceux contre lesquels il n’avait pas de charges concrètes. En vrac, nous allions tous rester, sans jugement ni condamnation, à moisir dans ce camp, pour une période «indéterminée ». Nos familles allaient déployer des trésors d’ingéniosité pour démontrer notre innocence ou plaider notre cause. En pure perte : leurs lettres servaient à rouler des cigarettes. Seul recours contre l’arbitraire, l’argent ou l’intervention personnelle d’un cadre dirigeant, ou les deux. Bref, la corruption; une justice de riches ! (p. 18)

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Gare à ceux qui perdent leur outil, ils seront accusés de « destruction volontaire d’instrument de travail du peuple » et donc de « contribution à la dégradation de l’économie du pays », bref de comportement réactionnaire, d’activités contre-révolutionnaires. Tous délits passibles du conex.

Le conex, ce sont ces mystérieux containers alignés dans la cour centrale du camp, des cubes de fer de deux mètres de côté récupérés sur l’armée américaine où l’on enferme les détenus rétifs. Pas de fenêtre, une porte hermétiquement close. Les types deviennent fous de chaleur dans cette ferraille chauffée à blanc. (p. 20)

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L’humiliation résidait dans le fait que nous étions traités comme des bêtes de somme. C’est sous le régime communiste que nous connaissions l’exploitation de l’homme par l’homme tant reprochée au régime capitaliste. Ce n’était pas le travail manuel qui était en soi dégradant, mais la condition de sous-hommes dans laquelle on nous faisait vivre nous formions une armée de loques humaines, une cohorte de mendiants, un bataillon d’esclaves semblables à ceux qui construisirent la muraille de Chine. Sur les diguettes glissantes, nous allions sans sabots, ni même ces savates découpées dans les pneus. Nous étions pieds nus, nos vêtements partaient en lambeaux. Par dignité autant que par nécessité, nous les raccommodions de notre mieux. (p. 21)

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On a accusé le régime actuel d’empoisonner ou de fusiller ses prisonniers. C’est faux. D’ailleurs, rien de tel n’était nécessaire, du moins dans mon camp. On se contentait de les laisser mourir de mort naturelle, d’épuisement, de béribéri, de tuberculose, de dysenterie. Les conditions de travail, de ravitaillement et d’hygiène favorisaient le terrain. Pas de médicaments ou presque. Désespérés, humiliés, les malades se laissaient mourir. Leurs camarades de cellule se contentaient de les envelopper dans trois mètres de nylon pour aller les enterrer dans le champ de manioc. Seul l’espoir maintenait les prisonniers en vie. L’espoir de revoir un jour leur famille. Ils étaient prêts à attendre des mois. Les dirigeants ne leur avaient-ils pas promis la clémence? Ils patientaient six mois, un an, deux ans, trois ans, reculaient de semaine en semaine la limite de leur résistance, puis un jour ils ne croyaient plus au mythe de leur libération prochaine ils cessaient de s’agripper aux promesses sans arrêt remises des dirigeants et mouraient. (p. 21)

Mis en ligne avec l’autorisation de l’auteur.

Mithouna : La Route n°9. Témoignage sur le goulag laotien [2001]

En 1975, les Communistes prennent le pouvoir au royaume du Laos. Dans les jours qui suivent, tous les officiers et sous-officiers de l’armée royale laotienne sont arrêtés et déportés dans des camps de rééducation. Les voilà condamnés sans jugement à une peine dont ils ignorent la durée pour des crimes qu’ils n’ont pas commis. Parmi eux, Mithouna, l’auteur de ce livre.

 

C’est la vie dans quelques-uns de ces camps, établis à proximité de la Route n°9, puis dans une prison à régime sévère, que nous décrit Mithouna. Son récit, vivant et détaillé, constitue un précieux témoignage sur l’un des aspects les plus sombres et les plus ignorés du Laos contemporain. C’est en même temps une leçon de courage : on y voit comment l’auteur, grâce à sa force d’âme, sa patience et son intelligence, parvient à traverser sans désespérer ces terribles années, puis à retrouver la liberté.

Mithouna s’était juré de témoigner un jour. Avec ce livre c’est chose faite.

Mithouna vit désormais avec sa famille en France, où il a obtenu l’asile politique, puis la nationalisté française. Outre ses activités professionnelles, il compose en laotien des poèmes et des chansons.

André Rosset a fait connaissance de Mithouna dans le cadre de ses activités bénévoles dans un comité local d’aide aux réfugiés du sud-est asiatique. (présentation de la quatrième de couverture).

Réf. : Mithouna (avec André Rosset), La Route n° 9. Témoignage sur le goulag laotien, Paris, L’Harmattan, Mémoires asiatiques, 2001, 398 p.

Aperçu sur Google Books

Séminaire “Mémoires d’Indochine” : Séance 6

Année universitaire 2012-2013 / Master Asie Orientale Contemporaine (ASIOC) / Semestre 1

 

Mémoires d’Indochine :

Regards internes sur la décolonisation et la guerre

au Viêt-Nam, Laos et Cambodge

 

Séance 6 – vendredi 9 novembre 2012

« Prisons, massacres, violences et rééducation »

* * *

Cette séance sera consacrée aux témoignages sur les systèmes concentrationnaires communistes mis en place dans la péninsule indochinoise après les victoires militaires de 1975. La rééducation politique, le travail forcé, les mauvais traitements infligés aux prisonniers seront décryptés à l’aune des cas vietnamien et laotien. L’épuration ethnique et politique de la population cambodgienne sous les Khmers rouges sera étudiée dans les exposés oraux.

 

Extraits de textes à discuter :

  • Mithouna, en collaboration avec André Rosset, La route n° 9. Témoignage sur le goulag laotien, Paris, Editions L’Harmattan, Mémoires asiatiques, 2001, pp. 6-13, 37-97 [+ dos de couverture]. Présentation et aperçu Google Books sur Mémoires d’Indochine.
  • P. V. Trân, Prisonnier politique au Viêt-Nam 1975-1979, Paris, Editions L’Harmattan, 1990, pp. 9-10, 91-153 [+ dos de couverture]. Présentation et aperçu Google Books sur Mémoires d’Indochine.

 

Exposés de :

 

Pour aller plus loin :

  • De Nike, Howard J. & al. (eds), Genocide in Cambodia. Documents from the trial of Pol Pot and Ieng Sary, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000, 559 p.
  • Kiernan, Ben, Le génocide au Cambodge 1975-1979. Race, idéologie et pouvoir, Paris, Gallimard, 1998, 730 p.
  • Metzner, Edward & al., Reeducation in post-war Vietnam. Personal postscripts to peace, College Station, Texas A&M University Press, 2001, 135 p.
  • Nghia M. Vo, The Bamboo Gulag. Political Imprisonment in Communist Vietnam, Jefferson NC, McFarland, 2004, 244 p.
  • Ressources sur le génocide cambodgien : Cambodian Genocide Program, Resources

Sources on Vietnam Laos Cambodia « Left-Wing Bloodbaths » – by Paul Bogdanor

Skulls from the Cambodian Killing Fields
© 2012 Steven G. Kellman

[ndlr] Sur son site personnel l’écrivain londonien Paul Bogdanor consacre une page aux sources en ligne sur les « Bains de sang de gauche ». Nous avons extrait de sa liste les sources concernant directement le Viêt Nam, le Laos et le Cambodge. Textes de chercheurs, de journalistes ou de simples témoins sont répertoriés aux côtés de rapports d’enquête et de documents d’archives. On y retrouve le débat sur les victimes de la réforme agraire de 1953-1956 en RDVN, des documents sur les techniques de répression des « contre-révolutionnaires » dans les trois pays, des témoignages sur les goulags vietnamiens et laotiens après 1975 et sur le génocide cambodgien perpétré par les Khmers rouges. Certains de ces textes seront évoqués en introduction de la séance 6 du séminaire. Les annotations sont celles de l’auteur.

 

Left-Wing Bloodbaths

Radical leftists would have us believe that they stand for democracy, progress, human rights and social justice. But when they seize power, they introduce slavery, terror, famine, concentration camps and mass murder. As the Marxists used to say, this is no accident.

 

Vietnam

– Pre-1975

  • The Massacre of Hue – In this communist massacre, thousands of men, women and children were mercilessly slaughtered.

– Post-1975

Laos

 

Cambodia

– Civil War

  • President Ford, News Conference on Cambodia [PDF] – President Ford warns of “an unbelievable horror story” if the communists capture Cambodia.

– Killing Fields

  • Bruce Sharp, Counting Hell – Studies demonstrating that the death toll was in the millions.

Re-education in Unliberated Vietnam: Loneliness, Suffering and Death – by Ginetta Sagan and Stephen Denney [1982]

Note: The following article was published in The Indochina Newsletter, a newsletter I edited at the time, October-November 1982. Much has changed in the 16 years since this article was written. So far as is known all of the former South Vietnam government officials and officers have been released from the re-education camps and many have been allowed to emigrate to the U.S. under a special program, called Humanitarian Operation. But many of former prisoners have experienced various problems resulting from their long term incarceration under difficult conditions. I hope this article might be of historical interest in understanding what these prisoners have experienced; and also in understanding conditions of imprisonment endured by those dissidents and others still detained in Vietnam. – Steve Denney [1998]

 

 

THE INDOCHINA NEWSLETTER

October-November 1982

 

Re-education in Unliberated Vietnam:

Loneliness, Suffering and Death

by Ginetta Sagan and Stephen Denney

(Editor’s Note: The following article is part of a preliminary draft of a report that will be issued later this year on human rights in Vietnam. The report is prepared for the Aurora Foundation, of which Ginetta Sagan is the Executive Director. Mrs. Sagan is a well-known human rights activist who interviewed over 200 former prisoners from Vietnam in preparation for this report. Details of the interviews will be brought out in fuller detail when the report is issued.)

Ten years ago, demonstrations were held around the world to protest political repression and imprisonment in South Vietnam. Seven years ago, Communist forces completed their conquest of South Vietnam. In June of 1975, the new regime ordered hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese to report to authorities for « re-education ». Many are still held in the camps today, but the world is mostly silent on their plight.

« Re-education » means different things to different people. To the Hanoi regime and its more vocal defenders abroad, re-education is seen as a very positive way to integrate the former enemy into the new society. It is, according to Communist leaders of Vietnam, an act of mercy, since those in the camps deserve the death penalty or life imprisonment.(1). The former prisoners, on the other hand, see re-education from quite a different perspective.

Re-education as it has been implemented in Vietnam is both a means of revenge and a sophisticated technique of repression and indoctrination which developed for several years in the North and was extended to the South following the 1975 Communist takeover. Yet it has largely failed in its effort to remold individuals because the ideology upon which it is based underestimates the power of the human spirit.

In preparation for this report, we have interviewed over 200 former prisoners from Vietnam’s re-education camps and examined all available articles from the Hanoi press and the Western press on the camps. The picture that emerges from our research is of hard-labor camps where hunger and disease predominate, where prisoners are harshly punished for minor infractions of camp rules, subjected to political indoctrination and forced to write long « confessions » denouncing themselves and others for alleged misdeeds in the past.

Estimates of those still detained in the camps range from 20,000 (government estimate) to 200,000.(2). We know of at least 80 reeducation camps in Vietnam (although some of them may have been consolidated since the prisoners we interviewed were released), and estimate that 100,000 are still in the camps. Those detained include military officers and government officials of the former regime, medical doctors, religious leaders, artists, poets, political leaders and schoolteachers, just to mention a few.(3)

In this article, we will begin with a brief description of the beginnings of the re-education system in North Vietnam, and then examine the re-education camps that have been instituted for the South Vietnamese since 1975. We will focus this report on the re-education camps in Vietnam, rather than the prisons, of which there are many, because we have much less information about the latter.

The Precedent in the North

According to Hoang Son, a spokesman for the Hanoi regime, the use of « re-education » camps began in North Vietnam in 1961, at a time, he says, when the United States and the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem had sabotaged the 1954 Geneva Accords, and were attempting to incite rebellion among « counter-revolutionary elements » in the North, most notably among former members of the pro-French army and government that existed during the colonial period. Son cited acts that threatened public security, such as « economic sabotage » and attempted assassinations of Party cadres. It was under these circumstances, said Son, that the DRV (« Democratic Republic of Vietnam ») enacted on 20 June 1961 Resolution 49-NQTVQH, with the task of concentrating for educational reform « counter-revolutionary elements who continue to be culpable of acts which threaten public security. » (4).

The method of implementing Resolution 49 was brought out in General Circular No. 121-CP, dated 8 September 1961, of the DRV Council of Ministers « regarding concentration for educational reform of elements dangerous to society. » The circular said Resolution 49 was to apply to « all obstinate counter-revolutionary elements who threaten public security » and « all professional scoundrels. » The « obstinate counterrevolutionary elements, » said the circular, included the following groups:

« 1) All old dangerous spies, guides or agents, all elements of the old puppet army or administration, former Rangers with many heinous crimes, who received clemency from the Government and much education but who still obstinately refuse to reform and who still have acts threatening public security.

« 2) All hard core members of the former opposing organizations and parties, who before committed many heinous crimes, who received clemency from the Government and much education but who still obstinately refuse to reform and who still have acts threatening public security;

« 3) Obstinate elements in the former exploiting class and all other counter-revolutionaries with deep feelings of vengeance towards our system always acting in opposition;

« 4) All dangerous counter-revolutionaries having completed a prison sentence but who refuse to reform. »

The circular also described different categories of « professional scoundrels, » including thieves, pimps and « recalcitrant hooligans, » all of whom have been « educationally reformed » many times, but « who refuse to mend their ways. »(5) It is evident, therefore, that « professional scoundrels » would mean common criminals, while « obstinate counter-revolutionary elements » would generally refer to political criminals, in the eyes of the government, and those imprisoned on the latter basis should therefore be regarded as political prisoners.

It is also evident, from the description of « professional scoundrels », that these do not include the most dangerous criminals, such as murderers. The system of re-education developed in North Vietnam since 1961, and in all of Vietnam since 1975, is not looked upon by Vietnamese Communist leaders as punishment, but rather as a form of rehabilitation, in which Vietnamese who do not conform to the government’s norms are deprived of citizenship rights until they are ready to return to society. As stated in Resolution 49, « All persons given educational reform shall not be considered as criminal offenders who have been sentenced to punishment but during the period of educational reform they shall not receive the benefits of the rights of the citizens. »

The system of re-education, according to the circular of the Council of Ministers, is to follow the line of « combining labor and political education, » and the regimen is to include eight hours of « productive labor » a day, two half-days set aside each week for « political study, » with cultural classes in the evenings. Those who violate camp discipline, said Resolution 49, depending on the seriousness of the violation, « shall be prosecuted before a people’s court or sanctioned administratively. »

esolution 49 set the period of « educational reform » at three years, but allowed for early releases for those who « genuinely reform, » while stating that those who « refuse to reform » will have their period of « educational reform » extended. According to Hoang Son, as of 1980 all those in North Vietnam who were interned in the early 1960’s for reeducation have since been released (but how many of the released have since been arrested?). On the other hand, he said, there are still « a small number of counter- revolutionary elements interned in virtue of Resolution 49 since the beginning of the early 70’s. »(6).

Vietnamese Communist leaders argue that the system of reeducation is a humane alternative for those who deserve educational reform but not punishment. From what we have discussed so far, however, the difference between re-education and imprisonment is not clear. The main difference, it seems, is that under re-education, the inmate is subjected to an indefinite sentence, with its length officially dependent upon how well the inmate submits to political indoctrination and « productive labor. » If the re-education camps are more humane than the prisons of Vietnam, then it is only in the truest sense of the « lesser of two evils. »

Re-education Since 1975

Article 11 of the 1973 Paris Agreements guaranteed the people of South Vietnam the following rights:

1) freedom from reprisal and discrimination against those who collaborated with one side or the other during the war, and

2) democratic freedoms, such as freedom of speech, press, assembly, belief, movement, organization, meeting, residence and freedom of political activities.

The Paris Agreements was proclaimed a victory for their side by the DRV and NLF (National Liberation Front), and its representatives pointed out that several portions of the treaty, including Article 11, were virtually identical to statements made in previous declarations of the NLF, including its founding statement in 1960. While presenting themselves as genuine civil libertarians (despite the police state in the North), while proclaiming that Article 11 was in perfect agreement with international law, including the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, DRV and NLF leaders severely criticized the South Vietnamese government for not respecting the human rights mentioned in Article 11.(7)

When the DRV and NLF launched the 1975 Spring Offensive, leading to the military takeover of South Vietnam, they claimed they did so in order to « enforce » the Paris Agreements. Yet upon taking control over the South, these new leaders did not set about to implement the rights mentioned in Article 11 but rather to permanently destroy them through the establishment of a « dictatorship of the proletariat. »

The hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who have been imprisoned in re-education camps since 1975 basically fall into two categories:

(1) Those who have been detained in re-education camps since 1975 because they collaborated with the other side during the war, and

(2) Those who have been arrested in the years since 1975 for attempting to exercise such democratic freedoms as those mentioned in Article 11 of the 1973 Paris Agreements.

In other words, both categories of prisoners are held in direct violation of Article 11 of the 1973 Paris Agreements, an international treaty, and therefore of international law.

Registration and Arrest

In May of 1975, various groups of Vietnamese were ordered to register with the new regime that had established control over the South on April 30, 1975. Then, in June, the new regime issued orders instructing those who had registered in May to report to various places for re-education. Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and rank-and-file personnel of the former South Vietnamese government were to undergo three-day « reform study, » June 11-13, in which they would attend during the day and go home at night.(8)

The others ordered to report for « reform study » were not allowed to attend during the day and go home at night, but were instead to be confined to their sites of « reform study » until the course ended. Nevertheless, there was some hope, for the government gave the clear impression that reform study would last no more than a month for even the highest ranking officers and officials of the former government in South Vietnam, and ten days for lower-ranking officers and officials.

Thus, officers of the RVN (South Vietnam) armed forces from the rank of second lieutenant to captain, along with low-ranking police officers and intelligence cadres, were ordered to report to various sites, bringing along « enough paper, pens, clothes, mosquito nets, personal effects, food or money for use in ten days beginning from the day of gathering. »(9). High- ranking military and police officers of the RVN, from major to general, along with mid and high-ranking intelligence officers, members of the RVN executive, judicial and legislative branches, including all elected members of the House of Representatives and Senate, and, finally, leaders of « reactionary » (i.e. non-communist) political parties in South Vietnam, were ordered to report to various sites bringing enough « paper, pens, clothes, mosquito-nets, personal effects, food or money for a month beginning the first meeting. »(10)

Dr. Tran Xuan Ninh, a pediatrician who served as a medical officer in the armed forces, was among those who eagerly reported for re-education with ten days provisions, as prescribed by the government. Compared to what had been expected, the deal was too good, said Dr. Ninh – three days of re-education for RVN soldiers, ten days for low-ranking officers and officials, and one month for high-ranking RVN officers and officials. Many teachers reported for reeducation, assuming that they would have to undergo it sooner or later anyway. sick people also reported for re-education, assured by the government (falsely) that there would be medical doctors and facilities in the « schools » and the patients would be well treated.(11). Yet, as we shall see, very few, if any, of those ordered to report for ten days or thirty days were released within that period, and many still suffer in the camps seven-and-a-half years later, living under the most inhuman conditions.

The Hanoi regime and its apologists defend the reeducation camps by placing the « war criminal » label on the prisoners. A 1981 memorandum of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Amnesty International claimed that all those in the re-education camps were guilty of acts of national treason as defined in Article 3 of the 30 October 1967 Law on Counter-revolutionary Crimes (enacted for the government of North Vietnam) which specifies punishment of 20 years to life imprisonment or the death penalty. But because the regime was so merciful, it was instead allowing the prisoners to experience « re-education without trial, » which « as applied in Vietnam is the most humanitarian system, and the most advantageous for law offenders … in accordance with the tradition of generosity and humanitarianism of the Vietnamese nation and the loftiest ideals of mankind. »(12)

Thus we see that hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese have been detained in re-education camps since 1975 not for any specific individual deeds, but for the act of collaborating with the other side during the war. This applies not only to top-ranking government officials and military officers of the former regime in South Vietnam, but also to more ordinary people such as medical doctors conscripted into the army (like Dr. Ninh), who were told that in treating sick and wounded soldiers, they had committed the crime of « strengthening the puppet forces. » College graduates, who attended officer’s training school, as required by law, and then became RVN reserve military officers were also sent to the re-education camps.Others sent to the camps in June of 1975 included nearly 400 writers, poets and journalists and over 2,000 religious leaders, including 194 Buddhist, Catholic and Protestant chaplains,and 516 Catholic priests and fathers.(13). Even leaders of the opposition to U.S.-supported regimes, such as the legislator Tran Van Tuyen (who died after three years imprisonment) were sent to the camps.

Furthermore, Amnesty International has appealed to Hanoi on behalf of many writers, scholars, priests, human rights activists and others who had no connection with the Thieu regime or previous South Vietnamese governments supported by the U.S., yet were arrested « months and even years after the end of military conflict in April 1975. » Amnesty International believes that « many were detained for the nonviolent expression of views critical of the present government. »‘(14). Under the present legal system in Vietnam, the government can, in political cases, detain an individual for up to twelve months for interrogation without formal charge or trial.(15). Some Vietnamese, such as leaders of the Unified Buddhist Church arrested in April 1977 have been held for interrogation for much longer than twelve months. Following this period, the prisoner may be (1) released with a formal warning, (2) sent to a re-education camp in accordance with the 1961 Resolution 49, or (3) brought to trial.

If brought to trial, the prisoner will be tried under laws originally enacted for the government of North Vietnam, which include penalties such as two to twelve years imprisonment for « propagandizing the enslavement policy and depraved culture of imperialism, » three to twelve years imprisonment for attempting to flee the country, and five to fifteen years imprisonment for « undermining the religious policy » of the government or « causing disunity among the various religions, between believers and non-believers and between believers and the administration. »(16). Bui Dinh Ha, a former RVN soldier, was brought to trial on the 25th of June 1981 for selling and loaning « reactionary and decadent books » and magazines in Saigon. He was sentenced to life imprisonment,in accordance with articles 4,7 and 8 of the Decree-law 267 promulgated on 15 June 1956 by the Council of Ministers of North Vietnam.(17)

From the discussion so far, it can be seen that the Hanoi government grants itself sweeping powers of arrest and imprisonment, and these powers are based not on any sense of justice, but on the desire to protect the security of a totalitarian government. It is from these circumstances that so many Vietnamese have fled the country over the last seven years.

Camp Conditions

We know of at least eighty re-education camps in northern and southern Vietnam, although it is possible that some of them may have been closed or consolidated since the prisoners we interviewed were released. Many of the camps are arranged in groups of three or four, with three to fifteen miles between each sub-camp. In the South, the camps are generally located in the remote jungle areas or near « safe » villages (pro-NLF before 1975). The high-ranking military officers and government officials of the former regime in South Vietnam, along with other Vietnamese considered high-security risks, were moved to camps in the North, some near the Chinese border, in 1976 and 1977, but they were moved away from the border with the outbreak of hostilities in 1978.

According to Amnesty International, conditions vary widely in thee camps, depending on their location, the composition of prisoners in the particular camps and the administrators of the camp, among other factors.(18). In its 1978 annual report on world conditions, Amnesty International said there were four categories of re-education camps in Vietnam, and described them in the following manner: « (a) detention centers in towns where the initial inquiries are held; (b) second category camps which hold both criminal and political prisoners, where detainees are encouraged to write accounts of their backgrounds; (c) third category camps where prisoners are held according to the nature of their alleged past offenses and (d) camps for former senior officers and members of intelligence services who have been judged to be `ac on’ (wicked), which are mostly situated north of Hanoi. »(19). With regard to the third category camps mentioned, this is apparently referring not to specific deeds committed in the past but rather to positions held. For example, low-ranking military officers would be in certain camps in the South, while high-ranking officers and officials would be in other camps, usually in the North.

Most of the former prisoners we have interviewed have been in between three and five different re-education camps. It is our belief that the movement of prisoners from one camp to another may be intended to delay Vietnamese from knowing the whereabouts of their relatives in the camps and to prevent prisoners from forming bonds of friendship with each other or with some of the guards. Some of the camps are administered by the military, some by the security police, and some by both.

In assessing conditions within the camps, there are basically three sources we can rely on: (1) official statements of the Hanoi government, (2) accounts by visitors to the camps and (3) accounts of the former prisoners. All three sources must be considered, but the value of the first two sources is limited. We have found translated articles from the official press to be very useful, especially with regard to rules that prisoners and their families are required to obey, and also with the attitude displayed by the government in these articles. But articles for foreign consumption tend to be highly self-serving and propagandistic.

When foreign delegations visit the camps, the prisoners are briefed on what to say to the visitors. In some cases, about half of the prisoners would be taken out to the fields or jungles to hide until the delegates departed. We know of at least one case where government agents pretended to be prisoners during a visit.(20). In another case, a prisoner was punished for reading a prepared statement to a visiting delegation rather than memorizing it.(21)

Nevertheless, such possibilities are not considered by most of these delegations, and this attitude is precisely why they were invited to tour the model camps. Since these visitors are ideologically predisposed to support the Hanoi regime, committed to improving relations between the regime and Western countries, they naturally try to portray the reeducation camps in the beat possible light — as if the typical camp were merely a training school rather than a prison. In defending the re-education camps, these visitors encourage the Hanoi regime to continue this policy and therefore bear a responsibility for the suffering of Vietnam’s political prisoners.

However, not all of the visitors to the re-education camps in Vietnam have been so myopic. Among the exceptions would be an Amnesty International delegation that visited Vietnam in December of 1979 and Dermot Kinlen, a distinguished Irish lawyer who led a delegation to Vietnam for nine days in April of 1980. The AI delegation, which visited three re-education camps and one prison in Vietnam, said it could not make a general assessment of camp conditions based on the visit: « Amnesty International is not professionally equipped to carry out prison visits in the manner that the International Committee of the Red Cross can. Thorough camp inspections necessitate lengthier visits to more camps and would require medical expertise among the inspection team. »(22)

Dermot Kinlen noted that the camps his delegation visited « were exactly the same camps as Amnesty had visited some months earlier and had also been visited by other groups. It is a pity that only three camps are available for inspection. » In all of the camps they visited, he said, most of the inmates « were not seen as they were absent at fieldwork. » Kinlen also said: « Aa a lawyer of thirty years experience and as a prison visitor and having made a study of penology I am satisfied that there is wholesale and widespread violation of human rights in Vietnam. The retention of an uncertain but large number of people without trial in detention and forcing them to do forced labor and subjecting them to indoctrination and depriving them of support and social contact with their families and friends, and providing inadequate medical facilities, and denying them any spiritual administration and allowing them no intellectual exercise other than the absorption of selected texts for the purpose of indoctrination are all negations of human rights. »(23)

Camp Routine

While it is true that conditions vary widely in the camps, we have also found a depressing quality of similarity with regard to certain features of the re-education camps, which appear to be universal. These include an emphasis on political indoctrination and mandatory « confessions » during the early stages of re-education, heavy and often dangerous physical labor, and widespread disease due to a severe lack of food and medical care. The variations occur mainly with regard to the various forms of physical mistreatment inflicted on the prisoners, but even here there are certain features widely practiced,such aa placing recalcitrant prisoners in « connex » boxes, metal air freight containers left behind by the United States, or in dark cella underground.

During the early phase of re-education, lasting from a few week. to a few months, inmates were subjected to intensive political indoctrination. Subjects studied included the exploitation by « American imperialism » of workers in other countries, the glory of labor, the inevitable victory of Vietnam, led by the Communist Party, over the U.S., and the generosity of the new government toward the « rebels » (those who fought on the other aide during the war). There were a total of nine courses, of variable length. Each course would begin with lectures from the political cadres, lasting one or two days, and following this the inmates would divide into closely supervised groups where they would discuss the lesson over the next five to seven days and write essays summarizing each lesson. According to Ngo Trung Trong, a former inmate in a camp for low-ranking RVN officers, the discussions would last four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon. In the afternoon sessions, the prisoners were required to repeat the contents of the lectures. (24)

The nine-course political indoctrination session generally lasted about two months, in the summer of 1975. Political indoctrination classes have continued since then, but with much less emphasis. A former inmate of Xuyen Moc camp in southern Vietnam reports that the subsequent indoctrination has consisted mainly of dividing prisoners into small groups in the evenings to review their work through mutual criticism and self- criticism – but this conversation never continues beyond the guards’ presence.(25)

Another feature emphasized during the early stage of reeducation, but continued throughout one’s imprisonment, is confession of one’s alleged misdeeds in the past. In a March 1981 memorandum to Amnesty International, the Hanoi government said « in all cases of people being sent to re-education camps, the competent Vietnamese authorities have established files recording the criminal acts committed by the people concerned. »(26) These files were established through the mandatory confessions and denunciation of others.

Such « confessions » provide the government with a retroactive justification of its decision to imprison hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese in the camps. It can point out, as it did to Amnesty International, that the prisoners themselves had confessed to committing crimes. Of course, such reasoning is unlikely to convince many people outside of the leadership of the Vietnamese Communist Party, but in any case the situation provides much opportunity for false confessions by the prisoners in order to satisfy their captors, as well as more ill-treatment of the prisoners in order to produce the « confessions ».

All prisoners in the camps are required to write confessions, no matter how trivial their alleged crimes might be. Mail clerks, for example, were told that they were guilty of aiding the « puppet war machinery » through circulating the mail, while religious chaplains were found guilty of providing spiritual comfort and encouragement to the enemy troops.(27) A reserve military officer who taught Vietnamese literature in high school was told that he had « misled a whole generation of innocent children. »(28)

Besides confessing such « crimes », prisoners had to write their autobiography and disclose their financial assets as described by a former prisoner: « You had to write the story of your life, including your father, grandfather and children, describing their fortunes, how everyone died, what they owned, including television, radio, camera. New ones had to be written twice each month, both in re-education and in prison. If they found you had left something out that you had included earlier, you were in trouble. You would have to write new confessions many times each day. Each confession was about 20 pages handwritten. »(29) Following the written confessions were the public confessions in which prisoners would confess their « crimes » before the camp authorities and other prisoners. Prisoners were encouraged to criticize each other’s confessions, said a former prisoner, which was « very effective in getting us to hate each other. » The more « crimes » a prisoner confessed, the more he is praised as « progressive » by camp authorities.

The incessant demand for confessions places much pressure on the prisoners, leading to insanity in some cases. A former prisoner who had previously been a medical doctor said he saw « many cases — screaming, yelling people. » Despite his medical experience, he was not allowed to treat them.(30)

The purpose of these confessions has not only been to produce a sense of guilt in the prisoners and to establish files on them, but also to get the prisoners to denounce other former soldiers and government officials who had not yet reported for re- education. The government has been very concerned about the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who have not yet reported.

« Labor is Glory »

Much emphasis in the re-education camps is placed on « productive labor. » Such labor was described by SRV spokesman Hoang Son as « absolutely necessary » for re-education because « under the former regime, they (the prisoners) represented the upper strata of society and got rich under US patronage. They could but scorn the working people. Mow the former social order has been turned upside down, and after they have finished their stay in camps they have to earn their living by their own labour and live in a society where work is held in honor. »(31) Thus, in the eyes of the Vietnamese rulers, « productive labor » is a necessary aspect in the overturning of the social order. Yet in examining the conditions under which this labor takes place, it seems that there is also an element of revenge.

The labor is mostly hard physical work, some of it very dangerous, such as mine field sweeping. No equipment is provided for this extremely risky work, and as a result, many prisoners have been killed or wounded in mine field explosions. Other work includes cutting trees, planting corn and root crops, clearing the jungle, digging wells, latrines and garbage pits, and constructing barracks within the camp and fences around it. The inmates are generally organized into platoons and work units, where they are forced to compete with each other for better records and work achievements. This has pushed inmates to exhaustion and nervousness a former prisoners said: « Each person and group had to strive to surpass or at least fulfill the norms set by camp authorities, or they would be classified as `lazy’ and ordered to do ‘compensation work’ on Sundays. »(32) Other prisoners who missed their quota have been shackled and placed in solitary confinement cells.(33)

The duration of the work has generally been eight hours a day, six days a week, which might not seem so bad, except the work is done in the hot tropical sun, by prisoners who are poorly nourished and receive little or no medical care. The poor health, combined with hard work, mandatory confessions and political indoctrination, makes life very difficult for prisoners in Vietnam, and has contributed to a high death rate in the camps.

Food and Medical Supplies

« My ideal, my glory, my dream, my love, All these are remote and abstract things! I confess to you that we, hungry prisoners, Only dream of being as well fed as animals. Why? Our dream to be Man, alas, Has ceased to be a possibility; That dream has led us to prison. Now, only four things on the earth are meaningful: Rice, manioc roots, potatoes and corn. These four things bind us, harass us, torture us, They never leave us in peace. »(34)

It was acknowledged by the government spokesman Hoang Son in his 1980 essay that while poverty is a serious problem throughout the country, « Neither food nor housing conditions can be considered as satisfactory in some of the camps. » However, Son maintains that such conditions are « equally shared by the inmates and their guards. »(35). Former prisoners would use stronger language in describing the lack of food in the camps, and deny that there is such equal sharing. Former prisoners believe that the government deliberately keeps the prisoners on low rations in order to weaken their ability to unite and resist camp policies, so all they think about will be the next meal.(36)

Since the inmates were originally told in 1975 to bring enough food for up to 30 days, food supplies were generally adequate for the first few weeks, but have gradually deteriorated since that time. Prisoners interviewed in 1976 and 1977 reported that the typical diet was only one or two bowls of rice a day with no meat and few vegetables.(37) Since then, the diet has become even worse, shifting from rice to corn and root crops – especially common in the diet now is manioc, a starchy root crop which has little nutritive value other than filling one’s stomach. Besides salt and water, the total amount of food for each prisoner is about 400 to 500 grams a day, and much of it is spoiled. There is virtually no protein in the diet, except on rare occasions, perhaps two or three times a year on holidays such as Ho Chi Minh’s birthday, the Lunar New Year or Independence day, when the diet is supplemented by a few tiny morsels of meat.(38) Under such conditions, prisoners are constantly preoccupied with food, as described in a letter smuggled out of the country:

« In my forced labor camp in the highland the event that dominates everything is the experience of hunger. We are hungry permanently. All we can think about, day and night, is eating! During the first days of the harvest season we are allowed almost our fill of corn and manioc roots. But that lasts only a few days. During these days there are shining eyes and smiles. But very soon the camp administration shuts up the eating. The shining eyes and smiles disappear. We feel hungry again, so hungry that we think of nothing else. Many of us catch lizards to eat, knowing they provide protein. Very soon the lizards of the whole area were exterminated. I know of a prisoner who one night caught a millepede on the ceiling, hid it under the mat, and in the morning roasted it on a fire and ate it. He said it was as good as roast shrimp. There are those who are very clever to invent devices to catch mice and birds; they will roast and eat them while others watch with envy. Others catch grasshoppers and crickets. Whenever someone catches a snake, that is a feast. In our conversation, we only talk about eating, and how to find things to eat. When we do not talk about eating, we silently think about eating. As soon as we finish lunch, we begin to imagine the supper awaiting us when we return from the field: The food put into the mouth is like one breath of air blown into a vast empty house. What little food is given is chewed very slowly.

« Still, it makes no difference — we feel even more hungry after eating. Even in our sleep, our dreams are haunted by food. There are those who chew noisily in their dreams…Such food as mice, rats, birds, snakes, grasshoppers, must be caught and eaten secretly. It is forbidden, and if the camp guards learn about it, the prisoners will be punished. »(39)

The lack of food has caused severe malnutrition for many prisoners and weakened their resistance to various diseases. Most common among the diseases are malaria, beriberi and dysentery.(40) Tuberculosis is also widespread in some of the camps. Medical supplies are generally nonexistent in the camps and medical care is very inadequate, usually limited to a poorly trained medic and perhaps a few prisoners who had formerly been medical doctors. The result is a high death rate from diseases. A prisoner in Dam Duong camp of Ha Nam Ninh province, for example, witnessed twenty deaths, including three cases of intestinal hemorrhage in which prisoners died because there was no plasma.(41) In Tun Hoa camp, about thirty prisoners (out of a camp population of 5,000) died of illness in the last three or four months of 1978.(42). Some seriously ill prisoners have been allowed to go to hospitals outside the camp or return to their families. But others have not, and many have died in the camps, without their families even being notified. It is official government policy, as stated in the 1976 PRG decree No. 02/CS-76 that terminally ill prisoners will be allowed to return to their families. Yet Amnesty International has brought to Hanoi’s attention cases of such prisoners not allowed to return. One such prisoner was Truong Van Truoc, who « died in August 1980 of stomach cancer in a detention camp, 90A TD 63/TC, Doi 11, Thanh Hoa. » Another prisoner AI mentioned was the writer Ho Huu Tuong, who was sick for several months, but not transferred to a hospital until June 2, 1980: « He died only three weeks later, just after he was finally given permission to return to his family. »(43)

Rules and Punishment

In the appendix of his book Enfer Rouge, Mon Amour, Lucien Trong, who was imprisoned in a camp of low-ranking officers, published a list of rules which he said were posted by the authorities in his camp. Other former prisoners have told us the same rules exist in other camps. The authorities seek to maintain strict control over the thoughts of the prisoners, and to this end forbid prisoners from keeping and reading books or magazines of the former regime, reminiscing in conversation about « imperialism and the puppet south, » singing old love songs of the former regime, discussing political questions (outside authorized discussions), harboring « reactionary » thoughts or possessing « superstitious » beliefs. It is also forbidden to be impolite to the cadres of the camp, and this rule has been abused to the point where the slightest indication of a lack of reverence to the cadres has been interpreted as rudeness and therefore harshly punished.

Violations of these and other rules lead to various forms of punishment, including being tied up in contorted positions, shackled in connex boxes or dark cells, forced to work extra hours or reduced food rations. Many prisoners have been beaten, some to death, or subjected to very harsh forms of punishment due to the cruelty of certain camp officials and guards. Some have been executed, especially for attempting to escape. Some of the most brutal treatment occurs in camps in southern Vietnam around the Mekong delta, where guards apparently have no fear of any reprimand for mistreating the prisoners.(44)

The connex boxes vary in size, but are generally large enough to accommodate a few prisoners crowded together. Some of the containers are made of wood, some of metal. The metal containers can become unbearable in the hot ,sun, prisoners can pass out or die under such circumstances.(45)

Solitary confinement cells are also common in the camps, such as the Gia Ray camp, where prisoners can receive ten days solitary for minor infractions, fifteen for making « reactionary statements » and one year (or the death penalty) for attempting to escape the camp. Prisoners in these daring cells are forced to eat and sleep on the spot, and carry out bodily functions while shackled to the wall.(46) Prisoners in such cells in Ham Tam camp (Thuan Hai province) lie on the floor with their legs raised and feet locked in wooden stocks.(47) In a camp in Nghe Tinh, Than Chuong district of Nghe Tinh province, some prisoners in the dark cells had their hands and feet tied so tightly that they became afflicted with gangrene and lost their hands or feet or died.(48)

Other forms of confinement include tiger cage cells and abandoned wells. A prisoner in Long Khanh camp (a southern camp for low-ran-ding officers) was put in such a well for five days because he sang « Silent Night » on Christmas Eve, 1975.(49) In some camps, such as Ben Gia, ditches, called « living graves » by the prisoners, are dug around the outer perimeter, away from the main camp, but visible from the watchtower. Prisoners confined to these ditches in Ben Gia were fed once daily–a bowl of rice or sorghum and water.(50)

Other forms of torture were reported by a former prisoner of Dam Duong camp, composed of around 1,000 prisoners, with 200 Montagnards (tribal highlanders):

1. The Honda : with the prisoner’s hands and feet tied together, he is hung and swung to and fro while beaten. Nausea and vomiting often follow.

2. The Auto : the prisoner is tied « butterfly » style with thumbs tied together behind the back; one arm over the shoulder and the other pulled around the trunk of the body. In another version of this the prisoner’s outstretched legs are tied by the toes to the two middle fingers of the hands of the outstretched arms. A prisoner could be kept in such positions for weeks or even months.

3. The Airplane : the prisoner is tied either standing to a pole, lying down, or sitting on cement for various periods, depending on the prisoner’s « mistakes » — one week, sometimes longer, sometimes a few days.

As one would expect, prisoners released after such treatment are often unable to walk.(51)

A case where the airplane method was applied was described by Nguyen Ngoc Ngan in his book, The Will of Heaven . This case occurred in May of 1977 at Bu Gia Map camp, located in a malarial jungle area near the Cambodian border. Tru, a prisoner, became angry when he saw a guard using the flag of the former government of South Vietnam as a dustcloth. He took the flag out of the guard’s hand and yelled at him for desecrating it. The next day, Tru was brought before the prisoners in a « people’s court, » but instead of confessing his « crime », Tru remained unrepentant, praising the flag and criticizing the communists. The out- raged camp commander sentenced Tru to be tied to a wooden column outdoors, standing upright for three months. He was gagged and his hands were tied behind the back and around the post, his wrists lashed tightly with telephone wire. The wire cut through his flesh by the end of the first day. Forced to stand bareheaded all day long in the hot sun and the unusually cool nights of the highlands, plagued by mosquitos, Tru contacted malaria by the second week and became seriously ill. After a month, Tru was untied and carried to meet the camp commander’s superior who was visiting the camp that day, and was given one more chance to repent. But Tru remained unrepentant and was taken out of the camp the next day.(52)

It has been acknowledged by Hanoi that violence has in fact been directed against the prisoners, although it maintains that these are isolated cases and not indicative of general camp policy.(53) Former prisoners, on the other hand, report frequent beatings for minor infractions, such as missing work because of illness. In some cases, prisoners have been beaten to death, such as Colonel Pham Ba Ham. Accused of helping an escape attempt of other prisoners, he was bludgeoned before the other prisoners and left without any medical treatment until he died.(54) Another prisoner, a former noncommissioned RVN officer, insulted leaders of the Vietnamese Communist Party while delirious with fever and was beaten to death with chains.(55)

Prisoners have been executed, most commonly for attempting to escape the camps. In some cases, the caught prisoners are tried by « People’s Courts » held before the other prisoners and then killed.(56)

Suicides appear to be fairly common in the camps. In one camp, a pharmacist who ended a letter to his wife asking her to pray for his return was brought before the other prisoners and berated for relying upon God for his release. For the next several nights he was interrogated by camp authorities, until he committed suicide. His family was not notified of his death.(57)

The Prisoners and Their Families

Family visits are important not only because of the personal need for prisoners and their loved ones to have contact with each other, but also because the families can bring food to their relatives in some of the camps. It has been reported that the prisoners in these camps could not survive without such food.(58) However, the government does not allow many visits. As of 1980, official regulations stated that prisoners in the camps could be visited by their immediate family once every three months.(59). The duration of the visits are not long, reported by former prisoners to last from 15 to 30 minutes.(60) Moreover, family visits can be suspended for prisoners who break rules: and it has also been said that only families who have proven their loyalty to the regime are allowed visiting privileges.(61) In its 1980 memorandum to the Hanoi government, Amnesty International expressed its concern that visiting privileges are dependent on the prisoner’s conduct and « progress in re-education, » and stated its belief that « a prisoner’s rights to visits and correspondence should be inviolable and in no way conditional, except in cases of serious violations of camp discipline and then only for a limited period. »(62) AI also said that if « visits by family or a lawyer are not allowed, an officer may feel secure when ill- treating a prisoner, knowing that no one concerned about the prisoner’s interests will see him or her soon and notice any signs of physical or mental deterioration. (63)

The families of the prisoners are regarded as responsible for the acts of the prisoners before 1975. According to the Hanoi spokesman Hoang Son, 1.3 million Vietnamese were part of the military or administrative apparatus of South Vietnam, members of « so-called » political parties or of mass organizations which Son says were American-controlled. On the basis of this estimate, and on the estimate that there are an average of five members to each Vietnamese family, Son concluded that there were 6.5 million Vietnamese who were « compromised » by ties with the non- communist regime in South Vietnam.(64) As a result of such logic, not only the prisoners, but also their families, suffer discrimination in access to health care, employment and higher education.(65)

As a way of redeeming their relatives for their past activities, families of Vietnamese ordered to report to the re- education camps were told in 1975 that they should « urge their dear ones to devote themselves to reform study. » (66). In order to attain the release of their imprisoned relatives, to demonstrate that they are good families, they have been pressured to move to the new economic zones.(67) Some families of the prisoners have had their food ration cards revoked until agreeing to move to these areas.(68)

The new economic zones are theoretically for a good purpose, to increase food production, but actually are more like concentration camps located in malarial jungle areas where the land is very difficult to cultivate. Conditions in these areas are therefore not so different from life in the re- education camps–living under harsh conditions and in isolated areas. Thus, thousands of Vietnamese have fled these areas and returned to the cities. In doing so, they become non-persons in the eyes of the state, ineligible for food rations, an approved job, or housing. Living in makeshift shelters on the streets of Saigon alone are as many as 15,000 to 20,000 such people, according to a reporter who visited the country in 1980.(69)

Besides being pressured to move to the new economic zones, families of the prisoners have also been pressured to give up all their possessions to the state and work extra hours in order to demonstrate that they are good families so that their relatives can be released.(70)

Release Policy

The policy of releasing prisoners from the re-education camps of Vietnam has been a story of broken promises. The existence of the camps in is itself a broken promise because it violates Article 11 of the 1973 Paris Agreements, which specifically prohibits such imprisonment. Another broken promise, as we have already noted, occurred when the Vietnamese who had reported for re-education in June of 1975 were not released within 30 days, as had been clearly implied by the new regime when it issued the order to report. In June of 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, in one of its last policy announcements before the official reunification of Vietnam, stated that those in the camps would either be tried or released after three years imprisonment. But this promise was also broken.

Over one million Vietnamese have been re-educated and returned to society since 1975, according to the Hanoi government. However, this would seem to contradict another official statement from Hanoi which said that 40,000 is the total number of Vietnamese who have gone through the reeducation camps since 1975, and that 26,000 remained in the camps as of 1980.(71) So if we are to take these figures seriously, and try to reconcile them with-each other, then we might assume that the one million figure includes those who attended « short-term, on-the-spot » re- education, in which Vietnamese would come to the « classes » during the day and go home at night, while the 40,000 figure refers to those who underwent long-term re-education, meaning internment in the camps. With regard to the latter, we must note that the estimates of foreign observers of those detained in the camps since 1975 are much higher, ranging up to 300,000.(72) Our own estimate is that 100,000 Vietnamese are still in the camps. It would be more difficult for us to estimate the total number detained in the camps since 1975, and we will not attempt to estimate the number of dissidents detained in the many prisons of Vietnam.

From accounts in the official press of Vietnam, it appears that the large-scale release of prisoners began in the last few months of 1975. On Jan. 6, 1976 the government newspaper Giai Phong (published in Saigon) announced the release of hundreds of prisoners on the previous day, and added: « That was the 21st time the Management-Training Section of the Military Management Committee has allowed people who make progress in reform study to return to their families. » Assuming that hundreds of prisoners were released on each occasion, one might very roughly estimate from this statement that somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 prisoners had been released from the camps by the end of 1975.

Articles that appeared in Saigon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) of Ho Chi Minh City on August 24, Sept. 7,20,24 and 30, and Dec. 11 and 25, 1975, discussed categories of prisoners that could be released at that time. The August 24 SGP article said certain groups of prisoners were eligible for release. These included prisoners with close relatives (parents, spouse, siblings) who were revolutionary cadres or had « merit toward the revolution in the locality, » and scientific and technical specialists who did not « commit crimes » or participate in non-communist political parties or organizations. The Sept. 7 SGP article added another category of prisoners eligible for release: old people, people seriously ill and pregnant women. However, as with the other categories, it stressed that « first and foremost » prisoners must have shown « progress » in re-education and repentance over « past mistakes » and also must not have been engaged in « criminal acts » against the revolution before 1975. (73) We can see from such vague wording that there were no guarantees for any category of prisoners being released.

The most significant policy announcement on the re-education camps was broadcast by Saigon Domestic Service on June 9, 1976. This is the May 25 PRGRSV statement No. 02/CS-76, signed by President Huynh Tan Phat. According to this broadcast, 95% of those « attending reform courses had their cases examined and their citizen’s rights restored » in order that they could vote in the April elections. This figure led some foreign observers to estimate that 50,000 remained in the camps, according to official figures, since the government had said that over one million had been re-educated.

The policy announced that those still in the camps would stay there for three years, but could be released earlier if they make « real progress, confess their crimes and score merits. » It also said that some Vietnamese would be brought to trial, including those who deserted the NLF during the war, those who owed « many blood debts » to the people and those who fled to « foreign countries with their U.S. masters. »(74)

As far as we know, no such trials were held, or at least they were not publicized. Nor were prisoners in the camps released after three years. The excuses offered for the continued detention beyond the three years are increased security tensions with China and the 1961 Resolution 49, which Hanoi argues supersedes the 1976 PRG decree and which allows for detention in the camps beyond three years. According to Hoang Son, Resolution 49 allows for a new three year period to be established for those in the camps who did not sufficiently reform during the first three years.(75) Since it is now over seven years since many of the prisoners were first arrested, we can presume that such prisoners are in their third three- year period. In the words of Amnesty International, « Grounds for the continued detention of these people, therefore, seems to have shifted from past misdeeds and present behavior to the external situation, namely national security. These prisoners are therefore being held in what is usually termed administrative detention without trial. » The result of such prolonged, indefinite detention is severe hardship for the prisoners and their families, said Amnesty International.(76)

Since there is no clear criteria for releasing the inmates from the camps, bribery and family connections with high-ranking officials are more likely to speed up release than the prisoner’s behavior. Released prisoners are put under probation and surveillance for six months to one year, and during this time they have no official status, no exit visas, no access to government food rations and no right to send their children to school.(77). If the progress of the former prisoners is judged unsatisfactory during this period, they may be fired from their jobs, put under surveillance for another six months to a year, or sent back to the re-education camps.(78) Approximately 60% of those released have been re-arrested, according to a high-ranking Vietnamese official.(79)

Amnesty International has appealed to Hanoi to abolish Resolution 49 and the system of re-education camps in Vietnam. We agree. Genuine peace and reconciliation in Vietnam cannot be brought about through forcing the people to praise the regime or « confess » their past opposition to the Communist side. On the contrary, as stated in 1973 by NLF leader Nguyen Van Hieu (presently Minister of Culture in Vietnam), « ..democratic freedoms are man’s fundamental rights, ardent aspirations of all social strata, of all political and religious forces in South Vietnam. Only a full and total exercise of democratic liberties can serve as a basis for the realization of national reconciliation and concord, the settlement of the internal affairs of South Viet Nam, and the exercise of the South Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination. » (80)

We call upon the Vietnamese rulers to make these words a reality in Vietnam today.

Footnotes

1. March 1981 written reply of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) to Amnesty International, page 42 of Amnesty International Report on Mission to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, June 1981.

2. estimate mentioned by Della Denman in the Far Eastern Economic Review, August 6, 1982.

3. see annual reports issued by Amnesty International.

4. p.86, Which Human Rights?, published in Hanoi, 1980.

5. The translated text of this document was published in the appendix of a report on human rights in Vietnam prepared in 1978 by Stephen Young for the New York Bar Association.

6. ibid.

7. discussed in detail in issue 1 (Oct. 79) of this newsletter.

8. 6/10/75 Saigon-Gia Dinh Military Management Communique, broadcast by Saigon Domestic Service on June, translated by the Daily Report (Asia-Pacific) of Broadcasting Information Service (hereafter as FBIS) on June 11, 1975.

9. 6/20/75 Saigon-Gia Dinh Military Management Communique, translated by FBIS, 6/23/75.

10. 6/11/75 Saigon-Gia Dinh Military Management translated by FBIS, 6/12/75.

11. from speech of Dr. Ninh at Amnesty International conference, published in Amnesty Action (of AIUSA), Sept. 82.

12. March 1981 written reply of SRV to AI, p. 42 of Amnesty International Report on Mission to Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

13. Nguc Tu Lao Dong Vietnam, Paris 1977, as cited by Stephen Young in his 1978 report to New York Bar.

14. p.272, Amnesty International Report 1981.

15. p. 9, AI Report on Mission to SRV.

16. Law on Counter-Revolutionary Crimes, Articles 9,12,15 Originally enacted by the government of North Vietnam in 1967, this code became law for all of Vietnam after the 1976 unification and was broadcast by Hanoi Domestic Service on Oct. 16, 1979 (translated text reprinted in Issue 21 of this newsletter).

17. The trial of Bui Dinh Ha was reported in the government newspaper Saigon Giai Phong on June 11, 25 and 26, 1981 and by a Hanoi radio broadcast on June 26. 1981. The reports were translated by the Vietnam Report of the Joint Publications Research Service (hereafter referred to as JPRS) on Sept. 4 and 10, 1981 and by the FBIS, July 10, 1981.

18. p. 196 Amnesty International Annual Report 1978.

19. ibid.

20. confidential interviews with former prisoners (the identities of all the prisoners we interviewed for this report are kept confidential).

21. Newsweek , June 26, 1978.

22. p.13, AI Report on Mission to SRV.

23. pp. 4 and 6, Report on the Re-education Camps and Prisons in Vietnam, by Dermot Kinlen, June 1981.

24. The indoctrination courses were described by former prisoner Ngo Trung Trong in his unpublished manuscript, The Vietnam Re-education Camp . Also described by former prisoner Nguyen Ngoc Ngan in his book The Will of Heaven (Dutton, 1982), p 123, and by the Washington Post , 4/30/78, New York Times , 8/29/78 and by prisoners we have interviewed.

25. New York Times, 8/14/81.

26. p. 42, Report of AI Mission to SRV.

27. Washington Post.4/30/78.

28. p.112, The Will of Heaven.

29. « They Were Us, Were We Vietnamese, » by Theodore Jacqueney, Worldview April 1977.

30. ibid.

31. p.97, « Re-education Camps and Human Rights » by Hoang Son, Which Human Rights?, Hanoi 1981.

32. Washington Post, April 30, 1978.

33. confidential interview.

34. « Tu Chuong Tren Doi, » poem by Nguyen Chi Thien, translated by Nguyen Huu Hieu.

35. p. 99, Which Human Rights?

36. see, for example, « A Form of Torture: Food Deprivation, » by Cao Ngoc Phuong of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation in Paris. This article was published in Issue 24 of this newsletter. Ms. Phuong believes the policy of food deprivation for prisoners began as early as 1956 in North Vietnam.

37. New York Times , 11/11/76 and 2/12/77 Worldview April 1977; Christian Science Monitor, 5/4/77.

38. confidential interviews.

39. « A Form of Torture: Food Deprivation, » by Cao Ngoc Phuong.

40. Washington Post , 4/30/78; also based on confidential interviews.

41. confidential interviews.

42. ibid.

43. p. 38, Report of AI Mission to SRV.

44. confidential interviews.

45. confidential interviews.

46. confidential interviews.

47. confidential interviews.

48. confidential interviews.

49. pp. 137-142, The Will of Heaven.

50. confidential interviews.

51. confidential interviews.

52. pp. 240-246, The Will of Heaven.

53. p. 98, Which Human Rights? (Hanoi). It was also acknowledged by Hoang Nguyen, editor of the Hanoi magazine Vietnam Courier, that prisoners have been tortured, but likewise claimed that it was not official policy to do so.(from Dermot Kinlen’s June 1981 report).

54. The Times, 10/25/78.

55. from speech of Dr. Ninh, Amnesty Action, 9/82.

56. see for example of such a trial pp. 116-118 in The Will of Heaven.

57. from speech of Dr. Ninh, Amnesty Action, 9/82.

58. New York Times, 8/14/81.

59. p. 14, Report of AI Mission to SRV.

60. The Oregonian, 12/6/77; The New York Times 8/14/81.

61. The Oregonian, 12/6/77.

62. p. 14, Report of AI Mission to SRV.

63. Ibid.

64. p. 81, Which Human Rights?

65. p. 716, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices , U.S. State Department Report to Congress, Feb. 2, 1981.

66. Giai Phong, 6/11/75, translated by FBIS, 6/16/75.

67. Saigon Giai Phong , June 16 & 18, 1975, translated by JPRS: 67909.

68. New York Times, 2/12/77.

69. The Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly , Hong Kong, 6/16/80 and 6/23/80.

70. confidential interviews.

71. figure given to Amnesty International in Dec. also to Dermot Kinlen in April 1980 visit

72. The Amnesty International Report 1979 s belief that the number of political prisoners was « far higher » than the then official figure of 50,000, and mentioned estimates by foreign « 50,000 to 80,000 » (Le Monde, 4/19/78), 150,000 (Reuter from Bien Hoa), « 150,000 to 200,000 » Washington Post , 12/20/78) and « 300,000 France Presse, from Hanoi, 2/12/78).

73. The 8/24/75 and 9/7/75 articles were both translated by the Vietnam Report of the Joint Publications Research Service, JPRS:66059 and JPRS: 66446 respectively.

74. The text of the 1976 PRG policy announcement was translated by FBIS, June 10. 1976.

75. p. 90, Which Human Rights?

76. AI Report on Mission to SRV June 1981.

77. Far Eastern Economic Review, August 6. 1982.

78. Article 5 of the May 25 PRGSV statement No. 02/CS-76.

79. The official was Hoang Bich Son, Acting Foreign Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, whose remarks were reported by Dermot Kinlen in his June 1981 report.

80. p. 128, The Paris Agreement on Vietnam Fundamental Juridical Problems , published in Hanoi, 1973.

Source : OCF Berkeley