A NEW DEATH ANNIVERSARY IN CON DAO

Monday - 25/11/2019 04:46
From 2012 to now, people in Con Dao district have a new spiritual ceremony, which is the anniversary of death and gratitude for soldiers and compatriots sacrificed during 113 years at the prison in Con Dao.
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People in Con Dao used to say that there are 4 death anniversary ceremonies that cannot be missed, namely Vo Thi Sau's death anniversary, Le Hong Phong's death anniversary, Nguyen An Ninh patriot's death anniversary and Hoang Phi Yen's death anniversary. But from 2012 to now, the people of this island district have one more spiritual ceremony, which is the anniversary of death and gratitude for the soldiers and compatriots sacrificing in Con Dao, held on June 20 of the lunar calendar every year.
Former political prisoner, PhD. Historian Bui Van Toan, one of the hard-laboured people, said: Based on the analysis of data on the date of death of more than 3,200 prisoners who found information, on August 1, 1942 ( News on June 20 of the lunar calendar) 124 people died, there were 335 dead in August, 1,042 dead in 1942; With the unanimity of numerous former political prisoners, the former prison liaison committee took June 20 of the lunar calendar as a day to commemorate the death of fellow soldiers and patriotic sacrifices in Con Dao.
The Death Anniversary is nearly with War Invalids and Martyrs July 27 every year. Vasco Airlines, these days fly at full capacity 15-20 flights / day to take guests from all over the country to Con Dao. In addition, high-speed trains from many provinces and cities in the South go straight to Con Dao only a few hours.
The road from Co Ong airport or the ports along the island's foot to the center of Con Dao district is flat, paved, green forest, traces of old prison hidden under the growing urban constructions as much.
The Con Dao Political Prison Former Liaison Committee coordinated with the Con Dao Historical Relics Management Board to hold the death anniversary ceremony with the participation of representatives of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Youth Union, University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Ho Chi Minh City National University) and a number of other agencies and units. Every year, more people attend the death anniversary, including hundreds of former political prisoners of Con Dao and relatives from localities across the country.
More than 9,000 Con Dao people today consider the death anniversary as a spiritual festival to commemorate and honor the martyrs and patriots who sacrificed for 113 years at Con Dao prisons.
This time is the 8th time, the death anniversary starts from the afternoon of July 21, 2019 with the act of giving incense to 51 soldiers who were executed by the French colonialists from October 29, 1947 to November 6, 1953, including Vo Thi Sau was shot and killed by the enemy at 7am on January 23, 1952. Next is the ceremony to worship 31 martyrs sacrificed in the process of re-establishing the revolutionary gas protection force of I-6B Con Dao camp (from 1964 to 1975) and the inauguration ceremony to honor the 15 Heroes of the prison forces. Detention politics protect revolutionary air in Con Dao prison during the anti-American resistance war (including 2 survivors), held at Camp 6 Phu An. Then came the ceremony to visit the heroic martyrs and patriotic people sacrificed for 113 years at Con Dao Prison, solemnly held at Hang Duong Cemetery.
On the morning of July 22, the traditional death anniversary ceremony was held at Con Dao Temple. In the sound of the 9 bells from the great communists, guests, local leaders and representatives of agencies, departments, former political prisoners and people of all classes moved deeply to offer incense to the British heroes, martyrs and patriots rest in Con Dao. Many people were helped by the descendants, into the inner space of the Temple, and touched the names of 2,284 martyrs now found and honored on the stone steles.
In March 1862, the first 50 prisoners were exiled to Con Dao; a year later (1863), the number of Con Dao prisoners increased to 500. By April 1975, 7,448 soldiers and patriots (including 4,234 political prisoners) were imprisoned in 8 prisons of this prison system. In 113 years, there were about 20,000 people living in that "hell on earth". Among them were patriotic singers such as Phan Chu Trinh, Huynh Thuc Khang, Tran Cao Van ..., Communist leaders such as Ngo Gia Tu, Nguyen Van Cu, Ton Duc Thang, Le Hong Phong, Pham Van Dong, Le Duan, Pham Hung, Nguyen Van Linh, Nguyen Duy Trinh ... There are 3 monks, a royal and many foreigners (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan ...).
It is not possible to statistically count how many prisoners are in the 53 overlords and in each of the camps of Phu Hai, Phu Son, Phu Tho, Phu Tuong, Phu Phong, Phu An, Phu Hung, The Cages and the French Tiger Cages, American tiger cages. But it is estimated that about one-tenth of those 20,000 inmates were killed in Hang Keo, Hang Duong, Chuong Bo, Co Ong, Hang Cau and scattered everywhere on 16 islands and in the open sea in the archipelago island.
From old inmates, setting up trees to make stelae, gathering gravels and stones to create a grave, to the local authorities and descendants, relatives now build tombs, cast steles, align the line and divide ABCD area, Monuments Management Board. Con Dao prison said, currently Hang Duong Cemetery has 4 graves, collecting 1,922 graves (including 25 mass graves), but only 714 graves with full names and addresses of martyrs.
So how many remains lie in the area of more than 51.5 square kilometers of the largest island (Con Dao) and many other islands? And tens of thousands of people escaped from "Hell on earth" with disabled bodies, carrying many incurable diseases, many women no longer function as mothers...
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As a matter of fact, every of the 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam today has children who were imprisoned and sacrificed in Con Dao. Every year, people from North-Central-South attended the death anniversary - the descendants of the heroic martyrs across the country and abroad these days looking to the place where his father used to fight with will, energy and hope born to preserve the mood of the revolution.
It has been customary, from 2012 to now, this 8th time, everyone who attended was touched and found that the death anniversary was held more and more formal and methodical. Many people believe that the anniversary is not only a tradition, but also ideas the national festival, by virtue of "repaying gratitude" and the virtue of "Eating fruit and remembering the planter" 
The former political prisoners still wish to have a "Con Dao Day" to become a milestone every year back to Con Dao - once a place of "Hell on Earth", a typical and notorious place for the oppressive regime, imprisoning, persecuting, slaughtering revolutionary soldiers, patriotic compatriots, also a place where violent enemies must tremble at the courage and revolutionary spirit of patriotic prisoners; The "communist school" trains the qualities and the will of the communist soldiers on the battlefield of exile in direct struggle with the enemy.
Con Dao prison relic system from 1979 up to now has become a place of traditional education for heroic struggle, patriotism, and indomitable spirit of the generations of seniors revolutionary activities. The faithful examples, the noble sacrifices of many generations of his father in this sacred land are forever the bright torch leading the young generation who are building and defending the Fatherland.
Remembering after liberation, on August 27, 1976, comrade Le Duan when returning to visit the place he was imprisoned in the past, assessed: “Con Dao is a heroic island. Con Dao is a great historical monument. Con Dao is a great school for the next generation”.

More than 20 years later, Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet also came up with the idea that there is a "Con Dao Day" every year throughout the country - that is "a pilgrimage day for relatives of martyrs' families." falls down here and also marks the opening day of Con Dao tourist season”.

Going through the tragic period of history, Con Dao has been transformed into a pearl island - a clear, beautiful and green paradise island; but the everlasting value of Con Dao when becoming a spiritual tourist destination to attract domestic and foreign tourists remains a sacred island - a symbol of Vietnamese revolutionary heroism.

 

Source: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ha Minh Hong (Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities)

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