The coconut tree prison (another name “Phu Quoc Prison”) is situated 5kms in the north of An Thoi town. It had been built in 1949-1950 on an area of 40 hectares by French to jail Vietnamese political prisoners and was later used by the Americans during the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
During the Vietnam War, prisoners in the prison were suffered cruel punishment, torture like nailing on hands, feet or head; hitting burned zinc wire into flesh; perforating teeth; throwing into a boiling water pan; burning alive, burying alive, etc. During period from 6/1967 to 3/1973, there were more than 4,000 dead people; tens of thousands of permanently injured people.
There is little thing of original prison existing today but models. The black and white pictures on the wall present different ways how Vietnamese prisoners were tortured, as well as images of people who died there. The gallery describes twenty four gruesome torture types that guards used in order to physical abuse and mental communist prisoners. Besides, visitors can see some small wooden and metal instruments that prisoners used to dig tunnels in order to escape.
A typical torture tool is “tiger’s cage”. The model with prisoners’ imitation inside can describe for you how the historically formidable reality was. It was made entirely of barbed wire and the prisoners had no space to move around. It was put outside, cold at night and hot in the daytime. To prove for atrocity of jail keeper, they threw water all over the prisoner when it was extremely cold and said it helped to wash the cage. In the contrast, they threw salty water on hot days which literally rubbed salt in open wounds of the prisoners. Not many prisoners could suffer be sunburned and scalded under outside harsh conditions, a large number was died inside the cage.