Boat PeopleBoat People are known as refugees who fled Vietnam from Communism and the government. People fled from North and South Vietnam, China, and Laos. In 1978, a war broke out between Cambodia and Vietnam which created a lot of refugees in those areas. They wanted to flee but the only way was by sea.

"However, the number who attempted to flee has been put as high as 1.5 million. Estimates for deaths vary from 50,000 to 200,000" (History Learning Cite).

"The United States accepted 823,000 refugees; Britain accepted 19,000; France accepted 96,000; Australia and Canada accepted 137,000 each" (History Learning Cite).

The number of refugees was so high that all the surrounding countries couldn't take any more in their camps but more people were still trying to leave Vietnam. Many people tried to leave with a bribe of gold, they had to pay their way to get out of Vietnam. The United States president, Jimmy Carter, doubled the number of refugees allowed in to the United States each month.
"By 2000, more than two million Vietnamese had left the nation of their birth to start new lives in foreign lands" (American Foreign Relations).

A Personal Story

Dear friend,

My name is (name supplied), a member of the Hao Kiet boatpeople. We are being detained on Christmas Island, WA. On behalf of my fellows, I'd like to share with you as well as the free Vietnamese community our current circumstance and the reason of our escape from Vietnam.
I had to leave my homeland after being involved with the Luc Luong Doi Khang (Resistance Force), a group engaged in anti-government activities, when it came to my knowlege that those activities would cause serious troubles to me, I had no option other than fleeing my country for a safe place to stay.
I was born and grew up in the land where the people were impacted by persecution and authority's dictatorship under the communist regime. Throughout my years in high school, I was continuously isolated and abused by the schoolmates whose families were communist. I believe it was because my father had been a soldier who fought against the communist long ago. As being targeted by discrimination I left school early.
My elder sister's situation was also pitiful. She herself faced persecution and her children received the same treatment in primary school as I did. Similarly, I have witnessed so many families having miseries due to harshness caused by the authority in the country. And so, when the patience ran out, I joined the Resistance Force and participated in anti-communist activities to appeal on our denied human rights and civil rights such as Freedom of Press, Freedom of speech, privacy, protection etc... In doing this, the members of my group scattered leaflets with political content at different cemeteries, demanding the communist authority to change their policies for the sake of our people's well being and happiness and stopping further sufferings which may occur.
Instead of carrying out a reform effort, the government however, sent out arrest warrants upon us. Therefore I had to flee my country, leaving behind the beloved river with its green tree lined banks and the lushy green paddock fields where I spent most of my peaceful childhood with my loving family.
After a long journey of 28 days at sea, living in hunger and thirst and being affected by sickness, we eventually found a point of stopover in Australia. My boat landed on shore Port Hedland but we were taken away back to the sea and later, the Navy brought us to Christmas Island where we're kept until now.
Having been detained on this island for almost 2 years, we are always in fear of being deported to Vietnam. After arriving in Australia, we have publicly expressed our anti-communist views. Certainly I myself will [be] severely punished as all the Resistance Force members will be imprisoned, the women and children will be placed in strict house arrest if we are returned to VN. There is no doubt that we can never have a normal life and safety in Vietnam.
I also strongly believe there will be no agencies or organizations working there to help us when we are in jail or harassed. My mind and heart are always pre-occupied the fear of persecution, day and night.
I wish someday when being released from the centre, I will be able to share my joy with all the people and communities from different origins in Australia.

Thank you very much for your time reading through this letter.
My best wishes to you all.(Refugee Action).
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(Boat People from a Lost Reptile House)[Left picture] (Refugees in Australia)[Right picture]

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