Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hoa Lo Prison

Of course no one wants to go to prision but going to Hoa Lo prison is possible for anyone. The ticket is only 10,000 dongs/person.

It is located in downtown Hanoi, not very far from Hoan Kiem Lake. It was built by French a long time ago, in place which used to be a village. Unbelievable. Now part of the prison's area is Hanoi Tower and the remaining becomes a historic site and tourist attraction. This prison was used by French to keep Vietnamese political prisoners (among whom were some of the Party's leaders) and used by Vietnam to keep American pilots who were captured alive in the North during Vietnam War.

I paid a visit to Hoa Lo this morning. Not many visitors there and the prison is small, which made my visit short. What I felt a bit afraid of was small and dark cells keeping prisoners who were sentenced to death. And what made me feel so touched was the fact that Vietnamese political prisoners survived, escaped and continued their struggles against French before 1945. And I saw on the wall in the memorial area this sentence 'Chao cac dong chi o lai. Vinh biet.' (Goodbye comrades who remain here. Adieu.) I am not sure but it could be said by a political prisoner on the way to the guillotine. So sad. In the photo, behind me are some words presented to political prioners who sacrificed their life for the country, 'Loyal, Undaunted, Glorious, Forever'