[UPDATED 5/3/18; 5/6/18]University of Hawai‘i Press will be among the local publishers, booksellers, community organizations, and other exhibitors at the 13th annual Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival taking place this weekend, May 5 and 6, at the Frank F. Fasi Civic Grounds next to Honolulu Hale. Admission and parking are free. Visit the festival website to explore its new mobile-friendly schedule, filled as usual with speakers, panels, and activities. Read the latest news on its Twitter feedand check its Facebook posts to share with your friends and family!
UHP authors on the program this year include Sandra Bonura, flying in from San Diego to present Light in the Queen’s Garden, her biography of Ida May Pope—the founding principal of Kamehameha School for Girls—and Patricia Steinhoff, editor and translator of Destiny: The Secret Operations of the Yodogō Exiles. Each will sign books at our tent, located alongside Honolulu Hale on the ‘ewa-mauka side of the grounds (left side of the map above, or click here for a PDF). We’ll have our latest Hawai‘i titles available at a discount and will offer free US shipping on orders taken onsite. Slightly damaged (“hurt”) stock and a few titles in new condition will have special bargain prices.
The schedule below shows participating UHP-related authors and in-booth signings. Other signings will happen on an impromptu basis, so check with us at the event. We look forward to seeing everyone there!
• 4:00 pm | Mauka Authors Pavilion: UH Mānoa professor Patricia Steinhoff speaks on the real-life story recounted in Destinyby Japanese journalist Koji Takazawa.
• 4:00 pm | Alana Hawaiian Culture Pavilion: Dana Naone Hall will be on a panel for her book, Life of the Land: Articulations of a Native Writer, distributed by UHP for ‘Ai Pohaku. Due to the late hour, buy the book ahead of time to sign at her talk.
The OA edition has an added introduction with remarks by Professor Roth and the current Kamehameha Schools trustees, and includes Roth’s eulogy for coauthor Samuel P. King, the late federal judge who passed away in December 2010. In their statement, the Kamehameha Schools trustees share their support for the project as a way “to recognize and honor the dedication and courage of the people involved in our lāhui during that period of time and to acknowledge this significant period in our history.” They also emphasize the importance of making this resource “openly available to students, today and in the future, so that the lessons learned might continue to make us healthier as an organization and as a community.”
Published in 2006 and still in print as a paperback,Broken Trust examines the landmark events of the late 1990s set off by the publication of the “Broken Trust” essay in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that exposed mismanagement of the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop trust and of its beneficiary Kamehameha Schools. Written by King, Roth, and three respected kūpuna, the essay led to the empowerment of the school’s wider community and historical changes in the selection of Bishop Estate trustees. Release of the book in open-access format will make this historyaccessible to an even wider audience than previously and facilitate use in educational settings. In addition to primary source documents, educators can find lesson plans, discussion questions, and legal issues at http://www.brokentrustbook.com/.
According to UH Press interim director Joel Cosseboom, “Broken Trust is the first of what we expect will be a growing number of backlist titles that would benefit the people of Hawai‘i and elsewhere by being made available in digital form at no cost to the general public.” He is working with other authors toward that long-term goal.
Marking its 70th anniversary this year, UH Press is an academic support unit of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, founded in 1947 by the Board of Regents. Since its first publication, The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1, by Ralph Kuykendall, the Press has grown to be the state’s largest book publisher and one of the world’s leading publishers of books and journals on Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific studies, with a global network of publishing partners.
In response to the emergency, the U.S. military established a refugee camp on this small island in the Pacific. On Guam, the U.S. government planned to assess the crisis and process individuals while preparing camps on the mainland for the incoming Vietnamese. However, approximately 1,500 Vietnamese had another idea – refusing resettlement in the U.S. and returning home.
I first learned of these events when I discovered images of the repatriates in the U.S. National Archives and found “Ship of Fate,” the memoir of a South Vietnamese naval officer, Tran Dinh Tru. His story and that of other repatriates shows the real risks of repatriation if there are no guarantees of protection. This is an important lesson today given the U.S. government’s current steps to make it harder for refugees to enter the country.
Captain Tran Dinh Tru
Tru was a respected career South Vietnamese naval officer. In the chaos of April 1975, Tru evacuated with other naval officers, and he organized for a ship to save his wife, who was stranded far outside Saigon. However, the ship failed to rescue his wife. Like many family members across South Vietnam, she was left behind with their three children to navigate the new political landscape.
Waiting on Guam alone, Tru despaired that he would never see his family again.
Tru was one of more than 1,500 Vietnamese on Guam who did not want to resettle in America. They called themselves the repatriates, and they wanted to return to Vietnam for a range of reasons.
Many were young South Vietnamese sailors who were aboard South Vietnamese ships as the North Vietnamese advanced on Saigon, and their captains had directed the ships out to sea and never returned to port. These young men did not see themselves as refugees.
In other cases, older men and women decided they did not have the stamina to start again in America. Others, like Tru, had family members who had missed connections, and they faced indefinite separation.
The repatriates turned to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the U.S. government and the Guamanian public to make the case that they should be allowed to return to Vietnam. They wrote letters to the Guam newspaper and built massive billboards within the camp demanding their return. The UNHCR and the U.S. could not guarantee their safety on return, and so they made no plans for their repatriation. Frustrated with the lack of action, many of the repatriates escalated their protests.
The repatriates built a makeshift stage. Men shaved their heads in front of a banner that proclaimed boldly in English, “Thirty-Six Hours, Hunger Sit-In, Quiet, Hair Shaving Off, To Pray for a Soon Repatriation.” The repatriates also organized hunger strikes, militant marches through the streets of Guam and eventually set fire to buildings in the refugee camp.
This was a situation no one had anticipated. The repatriates did not want to go to the United States, the Guamanian government did not want them to stay on Guam and the U.S. government did not know what to do. Notably, the new Vietnamese government did not want them back.
The ship of fate
In the end, the U.S. government granted the Vietnamese a commercial ship, the Viet Nam Thuong Tin, to return home. Tru agreed to be the captain due to his experience and skill. The Vietnamese repatriates knew the communist government saw them as hostile interlopers, traitors and possible CIA plants, but they still felt strongly that they must return.
The voyage took roughly two weeks, and the atmosphere on the ship was tense and cautious.
When the ship arrived in Vung Tau, a southern Vietnamese port, the Vietnamese government saw Tru as suspect and counterrevolutionary. They ignored his repeated wishes to reunite with his family, and the government imprisoned Tru in its network of “reeducation camps,” where he suffered for 13 years. These camps punished South Vietnamese men who had fought against North Vietnam and allied themselves with South Vietnam and the United States. They combined prison labor and forced ideological training. They were marked by hunger, indefinite detention, and ongoing physical and psychological hardship.
My research into the limited reports of these events shows that the repatriates’ sentences ranged from months to many years. As captain, Tru suffered their arbitrary brutality the longest.
Tru eventually resettled in the United States with his family in 1991.
It’s worth noting that Tru’s long voyage is unusual. Most of the more than 120,000 Vietnamese who fled Vietnam sought and soon gained resettlement in the United States. President Gerald Ford’s administration allowed them to enter as “parolees” – a loophole in U.S. immigration policy, which did not make provisions for refugees at that time.
However, by the time Tru was released and decided to immigrate to the United States, he was able to do so through the U.S. Humanitarian Operation program. The U.S. government designed this program for South Vietnamese officers and reeducation camp survivors in the late 1980s, and it expedited immigration processes for this population who had suffered directly because of their affiliations with the United States. The U.S. accepted over 70,000 Vietnamese who had been imprisoned in Vietnam.
In my view, the Vietnamese repatriates’ story challenges us to recognize the risks and fears individuals face in moments of crisis, and ponder the difficult decisions that must be made at the end of a war.
June 23, 2017: This post has been updated with the results shown in bold.
Now in its 23rd year, the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards are presented by Hawai‘i Book Publishers Associationto honor Hawai‘i’s finest books and their authors, illustrators, photographers, designers, and publishers. While previously given annually, HBPA has switched to a biennial schedule, and this year’s eligible titles have 2015 and 2016 copyright dates. The winners will be announced at the awards celebration scheduled for Thursday, June 22, 6 to 8:30 pm, at the ARTS at Marks Garage in downtown Honolulu; the event is free and open to the public.
Attend the presentations by these UH Pressauthors and follow them to our booth, located alongside Honolulu Hale, for informal signings (times given are for the talks, so signings are about an hour later):
• Lillian Howan, The Charm Buyers (4:00 pm). Due to the late hour, buy the book ahead of time to sign at her talk and/or come to her reading on Saturday, May 13, 2:00 to 4:00 pm at Aupuni Place in Ward Warehouse.
At our tent we’ll have event discounts on the above titles and many others, and will offer free shipping on orders taken onsite. Slightly damaged (“hurt”) stock and a few titles in new condition will have special bargain prices.
We look forward to seeing everyone at this outside celebration of story and song!
The project is part of the Humanities Open Book Program, a joint initiative by the NEH and the Mellon Foundation. UH Press is one of eight publishers to receive the second round of funding totaling nearly $600,000.
We’re grateful to the Mellon Foundation and the NEH for choosing us for this funding opportunity, which will allow us to introduce our backlist to a new set of readers. Beginning in 2018, the selected titles will be hosted on a custom open-access portal where readers may download them in EPUB and PDF formats.
We also want to give a special shout-out to our colleagues at the UH Mānoa Library, who will assist in the digitization and hosting of the converted books, to our digital publishing manager Trond Knutsen, and to Katherine Fisher, our development and digital projects specialist, who was the lead writer and organizer for our grant application. It is through her tireless efforts that we are able to make more UH Press books accessible online.