Revolutionary Historical Site of Con Dao Prison

Tuesday - 19/07/2022 23:23
Con Dao is located on the East-West intersection, so merchant ships from Italy, Spain, Portugal, England, France, etc. have visited the island since the 13th century. Two East India companies of Britain and France have sent people to the island to study the terrain and draw maps many times.
In 1702, Allen Catchpote, director of the British East India Company, personally led the invasion of Con Dao. He recruited Macasca soldiers (Aborigines of Sulavedi Island in Indonesia) to build a fortress and guard it. Lord Nguyen sent people to the island to swap goods fraudulently, and then with the Macanese soldiers as mutinies, dislodged the British colonialists to regain sovereignty and territory of the South region (Đàng Trong) (1705).

The defeat of the British continued to nurture the intentions of the French colonialists. On November 28, 1861, Lieutenant Lespès was ordered by Admiral Bonard to send the battleship Nogagaray to invade Con Dao. Because in the eyes of the French colonialists, Con Dao was the ideal place that met the requirements of a prison of which four sides were the immense sea and separated from the mainland. There were no means of transport around the area, thus making it hard for prisoners to escape. Being imprisoned on the island, the prisoners would be cut off from all relations with relatives, outside society and could not resist. On the other hand, at this desolate place, the French colonialists could implement any barbaric repressive measures that could be concealed from the outside world's public opinion. Moreover, Con Dao was a sparsely populated place, with favorable natural resources, so they could push prisoners to work in forced labor situations to exploit and persecute them to serve the local living needs for the whole prison system.


Con Dao Prison was established by Admiral Bonard in Cochinchina on February 1, 1862, to imprison prisoners with sentences from 1 to 10 years. Vice Captain Félix Roussel was appointed as the island's commander and the first foreman of Con Dao Prison.
 
nhà tù Côn DDato xua

On January 31, 1873, the governor of Cochinchina Dupré issued a decree promulgating a separate regulation for Con Dao prison. After many years of implementation, additions and amendments, the most complete regulation including 20 chapters and 109 articles was issued on May 17, 1916. This regulation was applied until the end of French colonialism on the Indochina peninsula.

For more than half a century, Con Dao prison had only one prison camp (Bagne I). With additional financial resources from the federal budget (Indochina), Bagne II was started to be built in 1917 and put into use in 1928. Bagne III continued to be built and used in 1939. The sub-Bagne of Bagne III and two rows of tiger cages had been used since 1944.

 
phú hải
Bagne II

In 1955, Major Aloise Blanck handed over this prison to the Saigon government, ending nearly a century of crimes committed by the French colonialists on the archipelago. During the last 20 years of this prison, the former government of South Vietnam increased the size of the prison from 4 camps to 8 camps. Camp V was built in 1962. Camp VI, Camp VII and Camp VIII were built almost at the same time in 1968 and basically completed by the end of 1970. These three camps were funded by Maccord (US military and economic aid program). The camps were designed by American prison builders and built by US contractor RMK - BRJ. The foundations of camp IX and camp X were also built, columns were casted and then they were abandoned when RMK - BRJ company withdrew from Vietnam (1972).

During113 years (1862-1975), the prison system was built with 117 rooms, 44 cells, 504 "separate tiger cages" and 18 prison departments. The system was divided into camps that are Phu Hai (camp 2), Phu Son (camp 3), Phu Tho (camp 1), Phu Tuong (camp 4), Phu Phong (camp 5), Phu An (camp 6), Phu Binh (camp 7), Phu Hung (camp 8), the isolated French Tiger Cage and cowshed security camp. Among these, Phu Hai camp was built in 1862 and solidified in 1896. This is the largest and oldest prison in Con Dao historical site. Other camps also had many cells, barbaric and cruel torture areas.
Toàn cảnh khu chuồng cọp Pháp (khu tắm nắng)
Tiger cages
 
tigercase
Tiger cages
18 prison departments include Net Department, Department of Farming, Ice Making, Tree Pulling, Cowshed, Brick Kiln, Lime Kiln, Salt Department, Processing Department, Pepper Department, An Hai Farm, Co Ong, Hoa Ni, Rose (Bong Hong), Ong Lon Farm, Ong Dung, Sanitation and Dat Doc Department. These departments appeared at the same time to rehabilitate prisoners by means of forced labor, comprehensively serving all aspects of life for the administrative apparatus of the colonialists, imperialists and the life of prisoners on the island.
Các Sở Tù
Lime Kiln

 

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

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