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Vietnamese Refugees Recount Starvation In Southeast Asia

By Steven M. Hertz

Two refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia and local experts last night told tales of escape from communist troops and described the terrifying conditions in Southeast Asia to a small crowd at the Science Center.

"There is no historical parallel to what has recently gone on in Southeast Asia," Stephen B. Young, assistant dean of the Law School, said, adding, "One has to wonder if there isn't something inherently bad about humans that something like this could happen."

Thai Ngoc An, a physician and ex-political representative from Vinh Cong Province, said that he was fed animal feed and made to work in the fields during his three-year prison stay. Following his release government officials told him his detention had been a "misinterpretation of orders."

"We were relieved when the communists arrived in April 1975. I immediately went for re-education so that I could be acceptable to the new regime and get back to my work in Vinh Long," An said.

A Cambodian refugee read a prepared statement in broken English about his life in the Cambodian army and his subsequent escape from the communists.

He said the communists brainwashed him and in attempts to escape he walked through mine fields. Nearing the Thailand border, he watched as members of the Thai government turned away 7500 of his fellow refugees.

The talk, sponsored by the Harvard Hunger Action Committee, asked for volunteers to help resettle refugees in the Boston area.

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