Refugees: Indochina and Beyond
We now turn to the central topic of this volume, the nature of the evidence that has been presented in the West with regard to postwar Indochina, the uses to which such evidence is being put, and the significance of these facts.
One major focus of concern and outrage in the West has been the continuing flight of refugees from Indochina. In a review that is unusual in its honesty, the London Economist reports that:
16,000 boat people [from Vietnam] have landed in neighbouring south-east Asian countries so far this year; the monthly rate has increased from 980 in December to 6,000 in May. Partly because of the wide publicity these doughty seafarers have received, partly because refugees from Vietnam tend to have other advantages (gold bars, skills, relatives in America), a remarkable high proportion of the Vietnamese who have escaped since the spring of 1975 have been permanently resettled. Only 12,000 boat people (10,000 of them in Malaysia) and a few thousand other Vietnamese are currently waiting for a place to go... Thailand, by geographical ill-fortune, is still today the largest repository of unsettled Indochinese refugees, with 100,000 people registered in refugee camps. The great majority of these--83,500 Laotians and 14,000 Cambodians, who are mostly tribesmen and illiterate farmers--have little chance of moving on. 1