Addicts in Mass Break-Out From Vietnam Rehab
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Ninety-six addicts, armed with kitchen knives, escaped a compulsory drug rehabilitation center in Vietnam on Sunday. Vu Xuan Thai, director of the Haiphong Rehabilitation Center, says detainees threatened guards with their improvised weapons before making an after-dinner getaway. Altogether 96 of the center's 201 occupants fled. Since then, 15 of the escapees have returned voluntarily; police are searching for the rest. The escape highlights Vietnam's controversial compulsory rehab policy for its 140,000 addicted citizens. In an effort to combat the country's drug problem, addicts are required to undergo two years of rehabilitation, during which they must either learn a trade or perform manual labor. But treatment centers have often been less about rehab and more about exploitation. Last year the NGO Human Rights Watch, in a 121-page report called the The Rehab Archipelago, detailed how residents at these rehab centers are forced to perform often-hazardous unpaid labor in agricultural production, garment making or construction. According to one inmate, detainees face abuse if they don't work: “If you refused to work, they slapped you," he said. "If you refused to work then they sent you to the punishment room. Everyone worked." Detainees are often held captive despite having the legal right to request release if they don't get the care they need. More than 500 drug addicts escaped from another rehab center in Haiphong in May 2010.