April 8, 2023 | 2:00pm - 3:00 pm
The Wende Museum

Les Bird: Vietnamese Refugee Photographs

In 1975, after the end of the war in Vietnam, millions of people fled the country. Many did so by the only means open to them, by sea.

Between 1976 and 1989, Hong Kong Marine Commander Les Bird’s main duty was to patrol the South China Sea in search of those attempting to reach Hong Kong and refugee status. While over 210,000 were successful, many others failed and were lost at sea.

During this time Bird carried a camera in his kitbag, and when circumstances permitted he would take photographs of his work and the people and vessels that he intercepted at sea. Later, he took photographs inside the refugee camps in Hong Kong. A selection of his photographs is on display in the Wende’s exhibition Vietnam in Transition, 1976-Present. These and other photographs are published in Bird’s book Along the Southern Boundary: A Marine Police Officer’s Frontline Account of the Vietnamese Boat People and Their Arrival in Hong Kong, published by Blacksmith Books (2021).

Les Bird will show a selection of his photographs and explain the riveting stories behind them in a presentation followed by Q&A.

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