chapter  11
14 Pages

Dark tourism, diasporic memory and disappeared history: the contested meaning of the former Indochinese refugee camp at Pulau Galang

Pulau Galang is a 16 km 2 island in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago, lying just south of Batam. From 1975 to 1996, Galang was a refugee camp administered by the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) and the Indonesian military that housed Indochinese boat people who had landed in Indonesia. Some 145,000 refugees passed through Galang on their way to resettlement in third countries and, for a few thousand, repatriation to Vietnam. 1 While the jungle has reclaimed parts of the former camp, large sections of it, including the places of worship, cemetery and administration buildings, have been maintained or restored. With the addition of a small amount of curating by its Indonesian caretakers, Pulau Galang has effectively become a museum of the Indochinese boat people crisis. The camp has now become something of a pilgrimage site for former internees and their children, and also attracts tourists, especially from Singapore. Every weekend some 100 to 200 people sign the guestbook, and caretakers report a monthly average of some 1200 visitors (Fadli 2009a ).