Thursday, June 19, 2008

that evil we do (so well)

excerpt from To Bear Any Burden: The Vietnam War And Its Aftermath In The Words Of Americans And Southeast Asians -

"To maintain control in the camp, the Pathet Lao used prisoners as spies. They reported to the Pathet Lao the names of dissidents and conversations they heard among other prisoners. There were many executions by firing squad. Some people were sent to jails from which they never returned. Others were shot while trying to escape.

On one occasion, a group of thirty prisoners talked amongst themselves about conditions in the camp. A spy overheard this and told a Pathet Lao official. The thirty conversants were rounded up. The Pathet Lao accused twelve of them of being "radical rightists." They were tied with a rope and forced to sit.

The soldiers picked up big hammers that we used to break stones, and hit the prisoners on the head. They were lying in a pool of their own blood. But they were not dead. And the victim's eighteen friends stood around them, paralyzed with fear. The Pathet Lao ordered them to bury the twelve friends alive.

The eighteen protested strongly that these wounded men were still alive. They refused to bury them. The Pathet Lao became furious. They handed the prisoners the bloody hammers and ordered them to beat the men lying on the ground to make sure that they were dead. Unfortunately, the men had no choice but to finish off their friends. They then buried them as the Pathet Lao ordered."

Prasith Sayaphon, Prisoner, Pathet Lao Seminar Camp, Laos-Vietnam Border, 1975-82

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