Treatment of prisoners - Ian Thorpe

Submitted by Editorial team on

Extract from an interview with Paul Diamond, 9 November 2007

Reproduced with permission of Ian Thorpe

We handed all Viet Cong prisoners over to the Vietnamese; whether they were taken in hand by the military police or the civil police, I'm really not sure. But they were interrogated early on by the Vietnamese liaison officers, then they went off down the channel of capture and probably ended up on the island where most prisoners were kept.

I got a visit one time from, it was an Indian officer and two Scandinavian officers and they said 'You are the New Zealand senior officer of the Anzac battalion?' and I said 'Yes'. 'On such and such a date Victor One company captured...', and they named two Vietnamese names. They said 'How are these men doing now?' I said 'I've got no idea. You know, we hand them over to the local people'. They said 'Don't you understand...that under the Geneva Convention the capturing power is entirely responsible for those people until they are delivered safe and sound back to their homeland and New Zealand is responsible for those two men, their welfare, their health and the fact that they're being properly administered?' and I said I didn't know. 'I understand', [he said] 'but that's the fact.'

I don't think New Zealand ever was able to take that seriously. I went and spoke to my CO about it. He said 'Oh God we could all be in the same box.' But apparently these people were representative of the International Red Cross and asking this very important question.


Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage

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