After the 1975 Communist victory in Vietnam thousands of South Vietnamese attempted to flee their cointry. As this was only possible by sea, they have become known as the Boat People. It was a very dangerous undertaking, both because of the Vietnamese Governmet policies and the fact that in most cases their boats and rafts were not very seaworthy. Assessments of these refugeess is controversial and often affected by views about the Vietnam War itself. Many believe that the refugees were fleeing the Communists and and their repressive measures. Some believe that the Communists killed about 1 million people in Vietnam after their victory. Others South Vietnamese suffered lengthy detention in concentration camps an reducation centers. Other refugees were fleeing the economic disaster that resulted from the Communist victory. Both factors were almost certainly important. Anti-Communists tend to emphasize the former. The anti-War movement tend to focus on the latter, referring to the Boat People as economic refugees. Emigration laws vary from country to country, but political refugees are generally accorded greater protection than economic refugees. I am not sure how many people were involved, but it was cetainly in the hundreds of thousands. An unknown number of these refugees perished at sea in their often decrepit boats. Many attempted to reach Hong Kong which at the time was still a British territory. Some managed to eventually emigrate to countries like Australia, Canada, France, and the United States which all have sizeable Vienamese communities.
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