Vietnam boat people's plaque torn down
Around May, 2005 The Batam Industrial Development Authority (BIDA) removed a large stone plaque from the former Galang refugee camp. The monument was dismantled at the request of the Vietnamese president on the grounds that it was offensive to Vietnam.
The monument was erected on March 24, 2005 during a reunion of 150 former Vietnamese refugees, who are now residing in various countries, including Australia, the United States, Canada, Switzerland and France. The reunion and the erection of the monument were the initiatives of BIDA and Singaporean firm Bold Express, which acted in a liaison capacity between the former refugees and BIDA.
The plaque read as follows:
In commemoration of the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people who perished on the way to freedom (1975-1996). Though they died of hunger or thirst, or being raped, or exhaustion or any other causes, we pray that they may now enjoy lasting peace. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. - OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITIES 2005.
The reverse side of the plaque read:
In appreciation of the efforts of UNHCR, the Red Cross and the Indonesian Red Crescent Society and other world relief organizations, the Indonesian government and people, as well as all countries of first asylum and resettlement. We also express our gratitude to the thousands of individuals who worked hard in helping the Vietnamese refugees. - OVERSEAS VIETNAMESE COMMUNITIES 2005.
There are many monuments which commemorate important events: Vietnam has the My Lai monument, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is in Hiroshima, Japan, Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial is in Vienna.
These and many other memorials have been allowed to remain around the world, unmolested. The Vietnamese government decided the words on the Galang plaque were offensive. Indonesia unfortunately bowed to their request to destroy this touching memorial.
The president of the Victorian chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, Hung Chau, has written to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono requesting that plans for another monument on Galang proceed.