Being a prison built by the French colonialist to imprison Vietnamese people which was known as Coconut Tree Prison, in 1967, Saigon Government rebuilt the Coconut Tree Prison into Phu Quoc communist prisoner prison in an area of 400ha, also known as Phu Quoc war prisoner prison, or Phu Quoc prison. This was the largest place to keep communist soldiers in the South with more than 32,000 prisoners. Sometimes, this number was up to 40,000 people including political prisoners in several periods.
Phu Quoc prison had 12 areas numbered from 1 to 12, guarded by 3 military police battalions (7, 8, and 12). The additional areas as 13 and 14 were built at the end of 1972. Each area could contain approximately 3,000 prisoners. Each area was divided into several subdivisions which contained 950 prisoners, and subdivision B2 was dedicated to keep officers.
Surrounding each area was plenty of barbed wire fences from 10-15 layers with a dense lighting system. Besides the prison apparatus, a peak up to 4 guard battalions fully equipped with weapons and mobile means kept and patrolled day and night. At the sea, there was a navy group to patrol the outer.
The prisoner guard force was so crowded that every guard kept 2 prisoners. The repressive apparatus was up to 4,000 people including navy, army and air force. With this apparatus, the enemy believed that they will not only suppress but defeat any external force which was risky to liberate prisoners in Phu Quoc Prison.
Phu Quoc prison was the living evidence for the extremely brutal crimes of aggression colonialism and imperialism, while it proved the indomitable spirit and valiant struggle of revolutionaries. The war prisoners in Phu Quoc prison were suffered extremely savage punishments and tortures.
At that time, thousands of prisoners died in the prison because they couldn’t stand tortures. But with the resilience, courage and intelligence, the prisoners dealt with them in different forms of struggle from low to high levels, dividing the enemy ranks, tunneling to escape, etc.
Phu Quoc prison was recognized as a historical monument at the national level in 1993.
Phu Quoc prison historic monument today is not wide, located on the main area of the former prison with a two-story exhibiting gallery and external exhibiting area with original artifacts and almost in the former position.
The last years, Kien Giang province has restored and embellished several construction items such as: 5 prefabricated houses including jails, cafeteria, kitchen and two keeping houses for supervisors: restoring escape tunnel, a section of barbed wire fence, watchtower, tiger cage, the monument in the cemetery of prisoners and a gallery of added monuments, etc.
Every year, Phu Quoc prison welcomes thousands of tourists to visit. They are former prisoners to return their place where they were captured before; they are visitors of all ages across the country, especially the young people who come to visit Phu Quoc, they will definitely visit this monument; and foreign tourists. Pupils of this island usually come here to learn about the history of phu Quoc and the indomitable struggle of revolutionary soldiers.