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Rubber Plantation Village Commemorates French Colonial Oppression

Rubber Plantation Village Commemorates French Colonial Oppression

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    The village was recreated inside a five-hectare plantation in Dinh Hiep Commune in the southern province’s Dau Tieng District in 2010.

    Knife cuts can still be seen on many tree trunks here. The plantation belonged to French company Michelin, which built 22 villages for its workers.

    The workers would pray to their ancestors and gods every year on Lunar New Year’s Day (Tet).

    "Many workers hired by the plantation owners were from northern and central provinces," said Tran Van Hung, 68, whose aunt used to work at the plantation, says.

    "During Tet, they would practice the rituals passed down to them by their ancestors."

    A barefoot woman collects firewood to cook Banh Chung, the square sticky rice cake with a mung bean and pork filling that is an indispensable Tet (Lunar New Year) dish.

    The Banh Chung in the pot cooked outdoors on a makeshift firewood stove.

    Almost 100 years ago, hundreds of thousands of workers were brought to work at the plantation. Their main tasks were to clear forests for plantations, tap and collect latex from rubber trees and doing various other jobs in a tire factory.

    The people were forced to work in wretched conditions and the plantation management committed large scale human rights abuses including tying up and flogging workers.

    In 1936, thousands stood up to the plantation owners and managers, marking the increasing strength of the labor movement in Dau Tieng.

    A stone house measuring 10 meters by four meters built by the plantation owners for workers between 1925 and 1935. The houses were basic constructions and each was usually occupied by two families.

    Furnishings were bare inside the huts built for workers in rubber plantations during the French colonial period. 

    Inside their rustic dwellings, the workers had to make do with the most basic kitchenware.

    Some of the machines used for the production of latex have been preserved in the recreated village, which is a museum depicting life under colonial rule.

    The stump of a rubber tree planted in 1920.

    This rubber plantation has been recognized as a historical monument by Binh Duong Province.

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    21 Feb 2020
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