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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974

Torture in the "Movie Room"

Torture in the "Movie Room"

Menras and another Frenchman, Jean Pierre Debris, were arrested for distributing leaflets calling for the U.S. to get out of South Vietnam and for raising the N.L.F. flag above a monument to the South Vietnamese marines in Saigon. After being beaten unconscious he was jailed in Chi Hoa prison.

Photo of Andre Menras

Andre Menras showing how prisoners have to walk after years of bring shackled.

Menras was not tortured while he was in prison. But he witnessed the torture of others being forced to drink soapy water and then being jumped on by prison guards and made to vomit it. Other tortures including applying electric shocks to prisoners' genitals and forcing coca-cola bottles up women's vaginas. Prisoners were also forced to salute the Saigon flag and to sing songs of the Saigon military. If they refused they were locked up in a special torture room in Chi Hoa prison—the "Movie Room"

Up to 300 prisoners were locked in this room at any one time shackled to an iron bar. They were fed meagre rations and forced to stand in their own excrement. Menras knew one prisoner who spent four months locked in this room. The prisoners called it the "Movie Room" because when visitors came to "inspect" the prison the room was cleaned out and used to show visitors movies about the wonderful work the prison authorities were doing in "rehabilitating" their "communist" prisoners. Menras added that when the N.Z. Ambassador to the Saigon regime. General Thornton, toured some of the prisons he was accompanied by Nguyen Van Ve, the director of Chi Hoa gaol and nicknamed the "Father of the Tiger Cages", as interpreter.

The aim of the torture, said Menras, was to break the prisoners' spirits so they would never again be able to play a part in South Vietnamese political life. But despite the repression the prisoners didn't give in.