Côn Đảo Prison

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Côn Đảo Prison
Côn Đảo Prison is located in Vietnam
Côn Đảo
Côn Đảo
Location of Côn Đảo Prison

Côn Đảo Prison (Vietnamese: Nhà tù Côn Đảo), also Côn Sơn Prison, is a prison on Côn Sơn Island (also known as Côn Lôn) the largest island of the Côn Đảo archipelago in southern Vietnam (today it is in Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu Province. The prison was built in 1861 by the French colonists to jail those considered specially dangerous to the colonist government. Many of the high-ranking leaders of Vietnam were detained here. It is ranked a special historical relic of national importance by the government of Vietnam. The most famous site in this prison is "tiger's cage" (vi:"chuồng cọp"). The cage covers an area of 5.475 m2, of which the area of cell is 1.408 m2, sunbath room covers 1.873 m2 and other space covers 2.194 m2. The prison includes 120 cells. The prison was closed after the country united and just opened for visitors later.


French era[edit]

In 1861, the French colonial government established a prison on the island to house political prisoners. In 1954, it was turned over to the South Vietnamese government, who continued to use it for the same purpose. Notable prisoners held at Côn Sơn in the 1930s included Phạm Văn Đồng and Lê Đức Thọ.[1] Not far from the prison is Hàng Dương Cemetery, where some of the prisoners were buried.

Vietnam War[edit]

During the Vietnam War, prisoners who had been held at the prison in the 1960s said they were abused and tortured. In July 1970, two U.S. Congressional representatives, Augustus Hawkins and William Anderson, visited the prison. They were accompanied by Tom Harkin (then an aide), translator Don Luce, and USAID Office of Public Safety Director Frank Walton. When the delegation arrived at the prison, they departed from the planned tour, guided by a map drawn by a former detainee. The map led to the door of a building, which was opened from the inside by a guard when he heard the people outside the door talking. Inside they found prisoners were being shackled within cramped "tiger cages". Prisoners began crying out for water when the delegation walked in. They had sores and bruises, and some were mutilated. Harkin took photos of the scene. The photos were published in Life magazine on July 17, 1970.


  1. ^ Kelley, p 5-116
References used
  • Kelley, Michael P. (2002). Where We Were in Vietnam. Hellgate Press, Central Point, Oregon. ISBN 978-1-55571-625-7. 

External links[edit]