North Vietnamese Rehabilitation Center
North Vietnamese Rehabilitation Centers were under the radar. This was the term given to prisons for detainees of the communist government of North Vietnam, after the war.
I have interviewed more than 20 former quests of these, so called, Vietnamese rehabilitation centers, men and women alike. The
common thread is brutality and beatings. Most were lucky to survive these rehabilitation centers. The network of spies that made notes on people that helped the Allies fight or defend South Vietnam. They had names, dates, locations and a variety of other information to confirm the accusations make about a South Vietnamese citizen.
Daily life was pretty much what you would expect, being imprisoned. Every morning they recited the oath to Ho Chi Minh and the North. The prisoners were used as a labor force to build and reconstruct monuments, and the such. The easier assignments were given to the sympathizers of the the North. The hard labor jobs were assigned to the prisoners.
Food and daily living was more of a survival than living. Think of one bowl of rice, water and a scrap here and there of meat. Nights were sleeping on mats nestled together, listening to the moans of hungry and hurt prisoners. The aftermath of war and countries that were torn by civil war are one of the most revealing of mankind’s inhumanity to man.
War itself, for some reason people think has rules. The rules are self imposed and usually by the United States on its soldiers. They call them rules of engagement. Here is one I always liked, don’t shoot first unless shot upon. Yeah right, you could be dead when you have identified a hostile enemy. They are not playing by our rules, in fact the Geneva Convention is some they think is for dignitaries, not rules of war. Of course that is, if they ever heard of it.
One first hand account was from Cho a officer in the South Vietnamese army. Reprisals for him being a major extended even to his family. He was fortunate enough to send his family, as immigrants, to the United States. He followed some nine years later after serving a 10 year sentence in their rehabilitation center.
You can only admire this man for his courage and stamina. I met him after he reunited with his wife and children. Prisoners of war were on both sides and it takes a lot of forgiveness in one’s heart when you fought for a country that didn’t want you there.
We have long help our POW’s in high regard and rightfully so. Yet many countries where the conflict or war happens, have soldiers that fought for the freedom of their country too. Only to end up detained, killed or imprisoned by their own countrymen. A sad commentary of the shambles left behind as a result of helping countries experience freedom.
My personal opinion is we suffered the tragedies of human lives lost. Families broken and loved ones searching for answers while it is called a strategic interest of the United States. The scholars say history repeats itself. I may not be a scholar but I pray for those lost in the past and the future. We can only hope our elected officials that govern in Washington have to focus and logic to understand a battle field isn’t about acceptable losses.