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Thursday, 14 August 2008

The siege of the Cambodian Embassy, Saigon

In about 1971 there were problems with Cambodia. Both Laos and Cambodia had long had Vietnamese inside their borders. Something like a third of the population of the Mekong Delta was Cambodian, the Delta region having been invaded and occupied by the ever expanding Vietnamese nation before the arrival of the French.
Around this time I was teaching in a school not far from the Cambodian Embassy. This was occupied by Vietnamese students in support of some cause or other, I forget what. I know we had trouble with our own pupils getting caught up in the riots that took place between the students and the riot police.
I knew some of these occupying students and visited them in the Cambodian Embassy. Later it was stormed at about three o’clock in the morning during the curfew. I never did find out what happened to them. The South Vietnamese government of President Thieu would not tolerate any form of dissent. One imagines the unlucky ones ended up on Con Son, the notorious island prison dating back to the French Colonial times when it had been called Paulo Condore. It had the infamous tiger cages.
I knew some people who had spent time there or should I say done time, although these were for financial shenanigans and non political.

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