A report on atrocities in French Indochina (1933)




The following source is from a French report into colonial repression and atrocities in French Indochina, between 1930-33:



“The hysterical repression that followed these native demonstrations led to great cruelties. Mass arrests took place and torture, according to press reports, was widely applied, especially at Thu-Duc, Saigon and  Cholon, where electrical torture was used. According to Andree Viollis, the methods also included deprivation of food, bastinado [caning on the soles of the feet], pins hammered under the nails, half hanging, deprivation of water, pincers on the temples (to force the eyes outward) and a number of others that are not printable. One may be quoted: ‘With a razor blade, to cut the skin of the legs in long furrows, to fill  the wound with cotton and then burn the cotton.’

The infantry, chiefly of the Foreign Legion and the Colonial Legion, was even more destructive [than the air attack]. The account of the brutalities is far from pleasant reading, nor is atrocity-mongering a useful form of propaganda. But since some of the Legionaries were charged with an excess of zeal later at a trial at Hanoi in June 1933, it is possible to extract certain portions of the record that will show on whom lies the responsibility for this behaviour.

The extracts are taken from La Franche-Indochine and deal with the  hearing of June 12th:

Lieutenant Lemoanne: I received the orders of Commandant Lambert to kill all prisoners. On occasion, I  captured communists in flagrante delicto [red-handed] and executed them forthwith.

The President: You had prisoners tortured.

Lamoanne: That was to influence the population.

Captain Doucin: Precise instructions were given in confidential message 280 of 8/10/30, ordering the execution of every communist caught in flagrante delicto … I am well aware that bloody deeds were done. But who were shot? Communists! Well, I don’t think enough were shot. That’s my opinion…

The President [to Legionnaire Palowski]: Had you received instructions to execute prisoners?

Palowski: Yes, instructions from Monsieur Robin, who afterwards congratulated us and said: Tres bien! Continuez!

The accused were acquitted.”

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