Net Department (So Luoi)

Saturday - 16/07/2022 23:45
Along with the prison system, the French colonialists set up many prison departments in Con Dao to exploit the forced laborers. So Luoi was the earliest prison to be built in 1871, at the same time with Tau Bridge’s establishment.
Prisoners in this Department were responsible for managing barges and sloops,  weaving nets, building boats, fishing and providing them for officials and administrative departments on the island, repairing ships, transporting supplies for soldiers and prison camps, transporting coral and construction materials. To undertake these tasks, So Luoi regularly employed 80-100 forced laborers who were proficient in watercraft, worked in harsh conditions and knew how to weave nets and fish. So Luoi had a sub-jail which was quite solid. It was built to keep the prisoners working here. A big storm on November 5, 1930 had destroyed this sub-jail and 75 prisoners were killed tragically. One important thing that must be mentioned is that when the prison was about to collapse, the warden Bouvier still did not open the jail for the prisoners to go outside and find shelter. To those evils,  a few dozen prisoners' lives meant nothing. When the prisoners were killed due to the collapse of the prison, there were still other forced laborers used to rebuild the prison. 

From 1933, the prison cell ordered Ton Duc Thang to work as a mechanic and take care of the canoe at So Luoi. Here, Uncle Ton twice participated in the organization of prison escape, the first time was in 1934. In the second time in  April 1935, he was arrested and kept at the cell number 15 Banh I. While being kept at the prison, Uncle Ton took care of the Terminalia catappa planted next to the well behind the prison. Later, people often called the tree "Bac Ton's  Terminalia catappa" which was destroyed by a storm in 1993. 

Since Uncle Ton was detained here, So Luoi became the contact point between the prison cell and the party committee of Saigon - Gia Dinh and the French  Communist Party thanks to the relationship between Uncle Ton and the progressive sailors. Many classic documents and books of Marxism-Leninism had been transferred from So Luoi to Banh I and II for culture and theory classes in the prison. Since then, So Luoi had become an effective contact and supporter for political prisoners. So Luoi was one of the places where many daring prison escapes were held. The prison’s document also records dozens of prison escapes of prisoners of So Luoi, including the boat capturing for the prison escape of 57  prisoners of So Luoi and So Chi Ton in the afternoon of February 27, 1965. The battle was carefully prepared over a year ago and took place in an area which was not far from Tau Bridge. The political prisoners captured the whole group of guards, supervisors, and crew members of TCS.131 and robbed the canoe "Can  Tho - Soc Trang" of So Luoi when it was back to the liberated area. 

Currently, only the foundation of the prison remains. Due to being abandoned since 1975, the relic is seriously degraded and can collapse at any time. Therefore,  before the Ministry of Culture and Information dismantled the entire architecture,  the Management Board of Con Dao Monuments had documented the relic by filming, taking photos, writing records, and creating the relic’s drawings. A part of the relic camp is now transformed into Ton Duc Thang Park by the District  People's Committee. 

Source: Department of Culture and Sport of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Provice

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