Vietnam Center & Archive News and Updates

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Interview With Khuc Minh Tho

The interview of Mrs. Khuc Minh Tho, President and cofounder of the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association (FVPPA) is now available online. To listen to the interview click here. Mrs. Khuc’s is the second oral history interview conducted for the Vietnam Archive’s Vietnamese American Heritage Project.
12-15-2009 Khuc Minh Tho (far left), Ann Mallett (center)

12-15-2009 Khuc Minh Tho (far left), Ann Mallett (center)

   Mrs. Khuc  and the FVPPA have helped over 10,000 former Vietnamese political prisoners along with their families emigrate from Vietnam through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Orderly Departure Program, and has assisted these refugees in the resettlement process. Mrs. Khuc has been an advocate for political prisoners and the advancement of human rights for over 30 years.
Childhood family photo

Childhood family photo. Khuc Minh Tho is the girl in white in the front row next to the baby. Khuc's mother died shortly after this photo was taken. Khuc's youngest brother died in an accident on a boy scout trip. Khuc's father was killed in the Vietnam War. Khuc's two older brothers were sentenced to reeducation.

 After her life was tragically affected by the war in Vietnam, Khuc, a woman of great heart and determination, dedicated herself to helping others begin a new life, as she did, in the United States.  It took over a decade for her to win the release and resettlement of Vietnamese reeducation camp prisoners.  An achievement that  is a testament to her inner strength and courage.  As a child she had  been called a boy because of her strong will, but it was her determination to not give up, no matter the obstacles before her, no matter how long it took, that enabled her to win the long battle in aiding and freeing Vietnamese political prisoners and their families.

Nguyen Dinh Phuc, Khuc's first husband

Nguyen Dinh Phuc, Khuc's first husband. He was killed in the Vietnam War.

Born in 1939 in Sadec, a small village near Saigon, Khuc witnessed numerous traumatic events and lost many loved ones to the violence of the Vietnam War, including, her father, stepmother, and her husband, Nguyen Dinh Phuc. At only twenty-three years old and five months pregnant with her third child, Khuc became a young widow dedicated to helping and comforting other widows and family members of fallen South Vietnamese soldiers by assisting them in obtaining funding for their funerals, which neither the families or the government could afford.

Khuc Minh Tho, age 16

Khuc Minh Tho, age 16

Separated from her children during the fall of Saigon in 1975, Khuc anxiously awaited news of her family. She soon learned that her second husband, Nguyen Van Be, a colonel in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, along with two of her brothers, had been sentenced to reeducation. Khuc’s husband would spend thirteen years in the reeducation centers and they would never be reunited.

In 1975, with her second husband still incarcerated, Khuc immigrated to the U.S. In 1977, in order to win the release of her husband and all Vietnamese political prisoners, Khuc, along with a group of women (spouses, children, relatives, and friends of Vietnamese prisoners) founded the FVPPA in Arlington, Virginia. To learn more about the FVPPA click here. 

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