Australia trusted Vietnam over the proper treatment of refugees being sent back, but a Vietnamese asylum seeker has a different story to tell. Australia sent back a woman to Vietnam, her native land, along with her three children in 2015. She was accompanied by two other Christian women and their children, who also belonged to Vietnam.

Tran Thi Lua, the Vietnamese asylum seeker claimed that she faced three months of detention and beatings following her return from Australia to her homeland. As a result, she made two attempts to flee to Australia but ended up being stranded by Indonesian authorities. During her second attempt to flee Vietnam in early February, her boat broke down off the Indonesian coast and she was stuck there with her children.

Tran and family along with two other Vietnamese families were hopeful of an interview with the United Nations refugee agency scheduled to be held this week. The three women were returned by Australia in 2015 due to face harsh punishment from the communist Vietnamese government. The Vietnamese asylum seeker said that they would have preferred receiving “a bullet to the head” over being returned to Vietnam by Australian authorities.

Tran Thi Lua, Tran Thi Thanh Loan, and Nguyen Thi Phuc were the three Vietnamese refugees among a group of 46 asylum seekers being returned to Vietnam by the Aussie government in 2015. According to reports, the asylum seekers on the boat were held by the Australian Navy at sea. They remained there for over a period of one month and then returned to their native land.

SBS Australia stated that some of the asylum seekers who returned from Australian borders had to face imprisonment in their homeland. They were accused of leaving their nation without formal approval from Vietnamese authorities. Tran said that she fled Vietnam in 2015 following a land dispute that prompted to arrests, beatings, and tortures by officials.

Vietnamese Asylum Seeker Claims ‘Dual’ Facets of Vietnam

Following Australian authorities’ call, Vietnam seems to have accepted its citizens while rejecting all claims made by the refugees. “It was staged to create the impression to the Australians that we’d be well treated,” she said via a translator. “However we were immediately taken to a detention center — Vietnam didn’t keep its promise … I was held for three months and I was beaten.”

Tran said that she was released later but then sentenced to three years imprisonment for illegal escaping from the nation. This is what led the Vietnamese asylum seeker try and flee Vietnam once again but the attempts were unsuccessful.

On the other hand, then-Aussie Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton looked confident of Vietnamese authorities taking good care of those detained in Australia for more than a month. “We assure ourselves of the fact that people aren’t returning to persecution or to a difficult situation,” Dutton said at the time. “We have worked with the Vietnamese in relation to this issue and … have been able to safely return those 46 people to Vietnam,” he added.

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