Ho Chi Minh

The Civilizers

First Published: Le Paria, July 1, 1922
Source: Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh Vol. 1
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House
Transcription/Markup: Roland Ferguson and Christian Liebl
Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2003

Under the title ‘Colonial Bandits’ our comrade Victor Meric has told us of the incredible cruelty of a French administrator in the colonies who poured molten rubber into the genitals of an unfortunate Negress. After which, he made her carry a huge stone on her head in the blazing sun, until she died.

This sadistic official is now continuing his exploits in another district, still with the same rank.

Unfortunately, such odious deeds are not rare in what the good press calls ‘overseas France’.

In March 1922, a customs-house officer at Baria (Cochin-China) all but sent an Annamese woman salt carrier to her death because she had disturbed his siesta by making a noise outside the verandah of his house.

The best of it is that this woman was threatened with the sack from the construction yard she was working on if she lodged a complaint.

In April, another customs-house officer who took the place of the above-mentioned official, proved to be worthy of his predecessor for his brutalities.

An old Annamese woman, also a salt carrier, had an argument with a woman overseer regarding the stoppage of part of her wages. On hearing the overseer’s complaint, the officer, without more ado, took it upon himself to give the carrier two stinging slaps in the face. While the poor woman was stooping to pick up her hat, the civilizer, not satisfied with the slaps he had just given her, furiously kicked her in the lower abdomen, immediately provoking a great flow of blood.

When the unfortunate Annamese fell to the ground M. Sarraut’s collaborator, instead of succouring her, called for the village mayor to carry her away. This worthy refused. Then the officer called in the victim’s husband, who was blind, and ordered him to take his wife away. The poor old woman is now in hospital.

It’s odds on that, like their colleague the administrator in Africa, our two customs-house officers were not worried. They might even have received promotion.