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Maltreatment of prisoners by Communists


Delo Cao-cap.  


 There are several things in Communists countries that the people in Freedom countries never imagine or figure out. One of those things is the treatment to prisoners by communists; it’s terrible and incredible, but it still happens in the world.


The South Vietnamese Government fell in 1975, and the communists occupied my countries then!  All officers of the South Vietnamese Armed Forces were imprisoned in concentration camps (jail) that the communists call: Re-Education camps to deceive the people in the world, and to camouflage their cruel treatment to the prisoners. Most of the camps were in the North. The soil is rocky and unfertile there. The weather in the North is very cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer.

I was one of the prisoners. I endured the sorrows and sufferings almost 10 years in those camps. They forced us to work roughly. We had to plow the fields by human energy. Instead of using the ox or the buffalo to pull the plow, they obliged us to do it by our force. We called ourselves: ‘’human-animals’’.


When the harvest came, we must sink our body into the cold water to reap the rice. The rainy weather starts from June to December in Vietnam. The people begin to plow the fields, and sow the seeds in summer; the harvest is in winter. The weather in the South is very hot (it’s hot almost the year long). The southern people are used to the hot climate, they feel very cold when the weather is below 70*F (21*C) [I recalled the days when I went on operations in Quang-tri province, I still felt cold although I put on a PT suit, a combat fatigue, a field jacket, a French army coat; and I covered myself with a wool blanket when it was 19*C (66*F)]. Almost of us were born in the South, and we were not used to the cold; therefore, there were many prisoners got sick from the coldness when they sank in the cold water to reap the rice. Besides the crops, the communists forced prisoners going up to the mountains or into the jungles to take woods and bamboos for house making. Sometimes, they beat us if we couldn’t get the wood or bamboo enough for them.


They were the most wicked when they obliged us to work hard but they didn’t give us enough food to eat. Normally, one Vietnamese person takes 3 or 4 bowls of rice for a meal; but the communists gave us just 3/4 of a bowl or one bowl of steamed corn, or dry potato for every meal.  If anyone who was being in the cellule, he got more terrible hungrily. (I never forget that when I wanted to last my meal longer, I was chewing every steamed corn slowly, until it got entirely ground, then I swallowed it after it was counting by me, I counted 72 seeds of corn at that meal, when I was in the cellule). We didn’t have either meat or neither fish even nor fish sauce to eat with the rice, they only gave us the salt water to eat with it.  I almost couldn’t take the rice when I was imprisoned. They only gave us the rice for meal on the three first days of the Lunar New Year, on the Jan-1, May-1 and Sept-2 every year. The rest days of the year they just gave us steamed corn, dry potato, dry manioc, and so on... All of us felt hungry continuously; we suffered the starvation second by second. We never knew the fullness when we were in the jails. To calm the hunger, we ate anything we could eat. We ate the lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, centipedes (we called centipede as mountainous shrimp, because after grilled its meat gets a good smelling, and its meat is as good as the meat of the fresh shrimp) worms, and bugs... We eat the grass sometimes! I was one of those who ate the grass to calm the ravenous hunger. In Vietnam there is 2 kinds of grass the human can eat, which are CO CHAI and CO DIEU (CO means Grass in English, I can’t translate Co chai and Co dieu to English). We cooked these Co and ate them. It’s very hard to swallow these grasses, but we had to take them because we were too hungry!! If anyone could receive the dry shrimp from his family, he could put it into the pot of boiled grass to make it as the soup. The cruel treatment of the communists to prisoners is worse than the treatment of slave-owners to slaves in slavery. They fed us worse than they feed the animals.


We didn’t learn anything in the so-called ‘’Re-Education camp’’; in fact, it is a jail, and we were prisoners. The communists told the world that they were reeducating us the way to live suitably to a communist society, but they didn’t. What they did is they lectured us the communism. They said the communism is the best doctrine, and the communist economic is the best way to develop nation, and it is the best way to make the people rich and happy. But in fact the communism doctrine is the cruelest really. It is the worst doctrine of any doctrine. Its economic is the worst economical strategy. To determine that the communism and the communist economic are bad, just see the communist Russians exiled those who opposed the communism and the communist Government. Just see how poor and unhappy the Russian people were, no human rights for them either. Because of its badness and its tyrant Russian people drew down the communist Government in 1990, and all communist Governments in East Europe collapsed afterward. We knew the Vietnamese communists have lain, we know how bad and cruel the communism is; but we had to shut up because of the obligations from them when we were in the Re-education camps.


In the jail we were forced to do rough works, and we were enduring the hunger. We were submitted the wiping sometimes. Those terrible days have passed, but I still frightened when I recall the days we were in the communist jail (Re-education camp)!!  I'm wishing that the Vietnamese youths living abroad would fight closely with their elders to topple the Communist government for the welfare of the Vietnamese people. I also hope that the young people of the next generations would apply their knowledge and high technology that they learned from foreign countries to serve their nation and their people when the Communists no longer exist.


Salt Lake City, Apr-30-2002.

Delo Cao-cap.