Vietnam Center & Archive News and Updates
On October 3rd-5th 2008 the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) held their Vietnamese Political Prisoners Day Convention at The Special Events Center in Dallas, Texas. Dr. James Reckner (Executive Director of the Institute for Modern Conflict Diplomacy and Reconciliation, and founder of the Vietnam Center and Archive), Jason A. Stewart (Oral Historian at the Vietnam Archive), and Anna Mallet (The Vietnam Archive’s Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist) attended the October 4th activities. The theme of the convention was “Children of Vietnamese Political Prisoners and Amerasians.”
An estimated 4, 000 people, former Vietnamese political prisoners and their families, attended the morning session (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) of the convention. The convention was the first ever reunion for Vietnamese political prisoners from all over the world, not just those who had resettled in the US. Representatives from all 5 of the Republic of Vietnam’s (South Vietnam) allies during the Vietnam War: America, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. A flag representing each of the Repulic of Vietnam’s allies was on stage. Also on the stage were 20 Republic of Vietnam flags that symbolized the 20 years from the re-education camps to freedom and resettlement worldwide, and almost 20 years since the Historic Agreement signed between the US and the Vietnam government on July 30, 1989. Dr. Reckner was a scheduled keynote speaker at the morning ceremony. Actress Kieu Chinh (famous for her role in Journey From the Fall) was also a speaker.
Dr. Reckner and Dr. Stephen Maxner (Director of the Vietnam Archive received awards from the FVPPA, presented by Khuc Minh Tho (cofounder and former President of the FVPPA), for the Vietnam Archive’s work to preserve and make accessible to the public its FVPPA collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, which preserves the history and experiences of Vietnamese Americans who came to the U.S. with the help of the FVPPA under the UNHCR’s ODP.
At the evening session (6 p.m.-11 p.m.) an estimated 9,000 people attended to see the biggest Vietnamese stars perform and to see a fashion show designed by a talented AmerAsian designer. All performers are children of Vietnamese reeducation camp prisoners, many were AmerAsian. Almost every song performed was written by the performer themself and was about the Vietnamese reeducation camps. One VietnameseAustralian performed a song he wrote when he was a young student in Paris and heard that those he loved and admired were forced to report to reeducation. Colonel Bernard “Bunny” Leo Talley, Jr. spoke on behalf of Senator John McCain at the evening session. Colonel Talley was one of five high ranking U.S. military servicemen, all former POWs in Vietnam, who attended the Oct. 4th convention. Colonel Talley received flowers and a warm welcome and greetings from McCain kids (children of former Vietnamese political prisoners who immigrated under the McCain Bill refer to themselves as McCain kids in respect for and in appreciate of Senator John McCain and the Bill that allowed them to immigrate).
“The Reeducation Camp Exhibit” was displayed at the convention by The Museum of the Boat People and the Republic of Vietnam, and the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation. The Museum of the Boat People and the Republic of Vietnam is a brand new museum, it just opened this summer, and is the only museum soley dedicated to the Vietnamese outside of Saigon.
The New England Association for Asian Studies (NEAAS) Regional Conference was held at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, MA on October 18th, 2008. At the conference, The Vietnam Archive’s Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, Anna Mallett, presented “Unheard Voices: The Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association and Its Struggle for Freedom.” Ms. Mallett’s presentation detailed how the FVPPA, under the extraoridinary leadership of Khuc Minh Tho, helped approximately 10,000 former Vietnamese political prisoners and their families immigrate to the U.S. under the UNHCR’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) ODP (Orderly Departure Program). Ms. Mallett’s presentation gave a brief introduction to: why the UNHCR created the ODP, Khuc Minh Tho’s biography, the history and accomplishments of the FVPPA, the condtions of the reeducation camps, the hardships endured by former Vietnames political prisoners and their families during and after their release from reeducation camps. Ms. Mallett enjoyed the conference and its beautiful location. The campus is surrounded on three sides by the bay, lots of ships and tall white sails, and trees adorned in beautiful fall colors.
The 37th Annual Meeting of the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies (SWCAS) was held on October 3rd and 4th 2008 at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Ann Mallett, the Vietnam Archive’s Vietnamese American Heritage Archivist, attend the first day of the SWCAS conference and presented “Unheard Voices: The Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) and its Struggle for Freedom.” Ms. Mallett’s presentation focused on the efforts of the FVPPA, under the leadership of its extraordinary and dedicated founder and president, Khuc Minh Tho, to free Vietnamese political prisoners detained in reeducation camps and assist those who had been released in applying to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Orderly Departure Program. The FVPPA helped approximately 10,000 former Vietnamese political prisoners and their families resettle in the U.S. through the O.D.P.
Did you know that the Vietnam Archive has the records of those assisted by the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) in applying to emigrate from Vietnam under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Orderly Departure Program (ODP)? The Vietnam Archive’s FVPPA Collection contains the records of over 12,000 ODP applicants. To find out if you, a family member, a friend, or a military counterpart have a record in the FVPPA Collection’s ODP Application Files, use the FVPPA Collection name search database.
- Go to the Vietnam Archive’s FVPPA Collection webpage.
- In the right column, under “Navigation Links,” click “Search Applicant Names Database.”
- Enter the name you are searching for in the “Search All Files” search field and click the “Search ” button.
In July 2008 the Vietnam Archive received congratulatory letters from Senator John F. Kerry and President William Jefferson Clinton for its opening of the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) Collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation. In his letter Senator Kerry writes, “…Your dilligent work to record for posterity the story of the historic immigration of Vietnamese-Americans is to be commended…I appreciate your important efforts to protect and give voice to their inspiring history.” To view Senator Kerry’s letter in full and access congratulatory letters from other VIPs for the opening of the FVPPA collection visit our FVPPA Collection Webpage.
Sebastian Arandia graduated from Texas Tech University on May 10, 2008 with a BA in History. He has been accepted into Texas A&M; University’s History graduate program and will begin in August of 2008. Sebastian started working at the Vietnam Archive in May of 2007 and began working on the Familes of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (VAHF) collection on July 17th 2007. He has proven himself a very conscientious, dedicated, and hard working student assistant with a passion for History and learning. Sebastian chose to work at the Vietnam Archive so that he could have “… the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with the history of the Vietnam War.” Sebastian enjoys working with the FVPPA (VAHF) collection because by doing so he is “…preserving and making known the history of the thousands of Vietnamese refugees who left their country after April 30, 1975.” Congratulations and Good Luck Sebastian. We wish you best. We know you are on the road to a bright future.
The Vietnam Center and Archive’s May 28th, 2008 opening ceremony of the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) Collection, donated by the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation (VAHF), was a great success. The Vietnam Center and Archive co-hosted the event, entitled “We Did Not Forget Those Left Behind,” with the VAHF. The ceremony marked the collection as fully processed and available to researchers. The Vietnam Center and Archive held the ceremony to raise awareness of the FVPPA collection and to thank those individuals and organizations who helped these Vietnamese refugees emigrate to the U.S.
Speakers at the event included: Dr. James Reckner, Executive Director, Institute for Modern Conflict, Diplomacy, and Reconciliation; Ms. Nancy Bui, President, Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation; Ms. Khuc Minh Tho, Founder and President, Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association; An Hoang Le, Humanitarian Operations Participant; Dr. Stephen F. Maxner, Director, the Vietnam Center and Archive; Mr. T. Kumar, Advocacy Director for Asia & Pacific, Amnesty International; Ms. Anna Mallett, Project Archivist, the Vietnam Center and Archive; Dr. William M. Marcy, Provost, Texas Tech University; and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deputy regional representative Thomas Albrecht was scheduled to speak, but had to cancel his flight and attendance due to events in East Africa, Kenya.
Distinguished guests at the May 28th Opening Ceremony included Khuc Minh Tho, T. Kumar of Amnesty International, Major General Dudley Faver, representatives of the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, and Texas Tech University Provost William M. Marcy.
Awards were given from the VAHF to Dr. James Reckner, Dr. Stephen Maxner, Mary Saffell, and Ann Mallett. The Vietnam Center and Archive also presented an award to Ann Mallett.
Letters of written for the May 28th Opening Ceremony by Senator John McCain, Senator Bob Dole, President George H. W. Bush, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Robert L. Funseth (Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Acting Director of the Bureau for Refugee Programs) are posted on our website for researchers to read when they look the FVPPA collection. These letters, along with the FVPPA collection’s scope and content note, administrative history, finding aid, and names search database, may be viewed on the following webpage of the Vietnam Archive’s Virtual Archive: http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamarchive/fvppa/index.htm
-All photos are were taken by The Vietnam Center’s Victoria Lovelady