The infamous historical prison in Vietnam

Nga Do
Throughout time prisons have been used to incarcerate a variety of people from hardened criminals to those who opposed the current political regime. A few of these prisons have become infamous due to their illustrious inmates, their barbaric treatment of prisoners and sometimes because of the daring escape attempts that some of their guests devised. The foreign veterans and Vietnam veterans said: They were the worst prisons camp of the Vietnam War. So let’s explore 3 prisons that considered the most terrible in Vietnam.

Hanoi Prison

The infamous historical prison in Vietnam
Photo by Clay Gilliland
The Hoa Lo Prison, sarcastically coined the Hanoi Hilton by American POWs, was originally built by the French to house Vietnamese political prisoners. The North Vietnamese Army later used the prison to house prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Prisoners incarcerated there were subject to torture, starvation, and even murder. Well known figures such as Senator John McCain, James Stockdale and Bud Day were just a few of the many prisoners of war that spent time in this prison. In 1999 a Hilton Hotel opened in Hanoi and was carefully named the Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel.

Con Dao Prison

The infamous historical prison in Vietnam 1
Photo by [Tycho]
The largest of the 11 prisons on the island, this prison dates from 1862. Thousands of prisoners were held here, with up to 200 prisoners crammed into each detention building. During the Vietnam War, prisoners who had been held at the prison in the 1960s said they were abused and tortured and the French era all prisoners were kept naked, chained together in rows, with one small box serving as a toilet for hundreds. One can only imagine the squalor and stench. Inside they found prisoners were being shackled within cramped “tiger cages”. They had sores and bruises, and some were mutilated.It’s a huge complex, where political and criminal classes were mixed together. ‘Solitary’ rooms where prisoners considered to be particularly dangerous contains as many as 63 inmates, herded together so tightly that there was no room to lie down. Today, emaciated mannequins that are all too lifelike recreate the era.

Phu Quoc Prison

Phu Quoc prison, a special national relic, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kien Giang Province. The prison is evidence of colonialism, imperialism, and also of the staunch spirit of Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers. Phu Quoc prison in Cay Dua Village, Kien Giang Province, was built by French colonialists to imprison Vietnamese patriots. In 1967, the Saigon regime rebuilt the prison, which went under several names Cay Dua (Coconut Tree) prison, Phu Quoc Jail of Prisoners of War, and Phu Quoc Communist POWs’ Jail. 

The infamous historical prison in Vietnam 2
Photo by Genghiskhan
“Foreign visitors to Phu Quoc prison felt indignant with the prison torture. They cried often and said they could never imagine of such brutal torture by their countrymen,” said Ms Thu Ha. 

Prisoners of war were severely and brutally tortured. They suffered from pre-emptive attacks in an attempt to force confession. In the following days, they were severely beaten. They were hung on hot steel scaffoldings and burned, beaten or shot. They also had to climb up and down thorny trees. Prison guard smashed finger and toe nails of prisoners and broke their teeth.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should acts toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The prisons in Vietnam have given us a better understanding about this. 

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