Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Association

On April 30, 1975 Saigon fell to the Army of North Vietnam. That spring, 125,000 Vietnamese fled the country. From 1978 to the mid-1980s, approximately two million Vietnamese fled the country by boat, which was highly dangerous and illegal. Refugees faced dangers from overcrowded boats, pirates, and the perils of Mother Nature. Alarmed by the high death toll, in 1979 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) proposed the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) which received the support and cooperation of the U.S. State Department and other diplomatic offices around the world. The next year the United Nations established an Orderly Departure Program office in Bangkok, Thailand to facilitate safe departures from Vietnam. In 1989, Robert Lloyd Funseth, Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Acting Director of the Bureau for Refugee Programs, negotiated with the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to allow emigration of former reeducation camp prisoners to the United States. For 15 years the Orderly Departure Program helped over 500,000 Vietnamese refugees immigrate to the U.S. before its closure in 1994. The ODP office in Bangkok closed in 1999, and the remaining open cases were given to the Refugee Resettlement section at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. From 1981-2000, 531,310 Vietnamese political refugees entered the U.S. In November 2005, the United States and Vietnam signed an agreement allowing the emigration of those unable to leave before the closure of the ODP office in 1994.

After her life was tragically affected by the war in Vietnam, Khuc Minh Tho dedicated herself to those hoping to start a new life, as she did, in the United States. Born in 1939 in the former Sa Dec province (now Dong Thap province) near Saigon, Communist forces kidnapped Khuc's father in 1968 and he was never seen again. In 1972 her step-mother was also killed by communist forces. When she was 23 years old and five months pregnant with her third child, Khuc's husband was killed by the Viet Cong as well. From 1961 to 1972, Khuc worked for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam. From 1972 to 1975, she served as Administrative Officer at the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila, Philippines. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, her second husband, Nguyen Van Be, a colonel in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was sent to a reeducation camp, where he would spend the next 13 years. In 1975, with her husband still incarcerated, Khuc immigrated to the U.S. She worked in a variety of social service positions in the suburban Washington, D.C. area, including the Foundation Senior Citizen Association, and the government of Arlington County, Virginia. She was the first Vietnamese American to work in the Arlington County Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.


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2016-08-13 05:08:13 am

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2016-08-13 05:08:13 am

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