Report - - Green Island Reception Centre Hong Kong, Aug '18 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Green Island Reception Centre Hong Kong, Aug '18


Bespectacled & irrelevant
Regular User
Green Island Reception Centre is a secure detention centre on a small island to the northwest of Kennedy Town, 500m from the main island of hong kong separated by the Sulphur Channel.

We didn't choose the best day for it..

I can find almost no history regarding the site itself, and what little I can is quite contradictory. Government documents claim that the last vietnamese detention centres were closed in 2000 yet a human rights website I searched showed Green Island as still being in use in 2009. We found paperwork there dated until 2011 I believe.

It seems that there were quite a few of these sites dedicated to the Vietnamese refugees.

This is the plan for the one we're talking about however.

The Vietnamese refugee crisis was brought about by the end of the Vietnam war in 1975 when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army. A combination of economic hardship and wars between Vietnam, China, and Cambodia led to worsening treatment of the ethnically Chinese Hoa People. Between 1975 and 1978 there were a few thousand emigrants, but in September 1978 the exodus began in earnest.
One boat enraged Indonesia by unloading 1200 refugees on an uninhabited island in their territory and then in October a ship attempting to take 2500 to Malaysia was refused permission to dock. Further large ships were also denied permission to land in Hong Kong and the Philippines. At this point, hearing of the larger ships being stopped, many thousands of Vietnamese began trying to leave in smaller boats and rafts. By June 1979, with a total of 350,000 refugees in camps throughout Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, these countries declared that they were not able to accept any new arrivals.
In July 1979 the United Nations declared a grave crisis in Southeast Asia and negotiations led to Asian countries agreeing to accept further refugees on the understanding that it was a transitory arrangement before sending them on to America and European countries.

The following 2008 article taken from The South China Morning Post explains the Hong Kong perspective better than I could-
From the 1970s, when the end of the Vietnam war first drove the country's citizens - fearful of the new Communist leadership - to flee for safer havens, through the 80s and the handover period, few issues ignited as much press coverage here as the massive flow of Vietnamese refugees, or 'boat people', to Hong Kong. Estimates vary but most sources agree that when migration peaked about 25 years ago, the city was playing home to 200,000 Vietnamese, with more than 300 arriving daily by 1989.
They were lured by Hong Kong's relative proximity and the city's decision to declare itself a 'port of first refuge', which in theory meant no one washing up on its shores would be turned away. The city also developed a reputation for its comparatively generous immigration policies. Refugees could take up to three months to organise resettlement with a third country. With Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand quickly moving to shut their doors to any refugee influx, Hong Kong became the only choice for Vietnamese determined to start a new life.
The pressures and controversies that the influx of migrants into Hong Kong produced have been well documented. From 1982, the government was forced to open purpose-built holding facilities, called 'closed' or 'transit' camps. Located in districts such as Sham Shui Po and Tuen Mun, the holding areas were rarely welcomed by local residents, who feared they could turn into breeding grounds for crime and disorder. These worries weren't misplaced; clan rivalries and overcrowding led to rioting and arson, resulting in fatalities.
These days, it's almost as if the Vietnamese refugee situation never occurred - the migrants stopped coming, the camps vanished and any high-profile residency debates nowadays usually have to do with western nationals or mainlanders.
The final fate of the Vietnamese asylum seekers was sealed by a 'comprehensive plan of action' unveiled by the colonial government in 1988, which stated all boat people turning up after the middle of that year would be evaluated and targeted for repatriation to Vietnam. The government's 'voluntary' repatriation programme sent about 60,000 Vietnamese back to their native land from the late 80s until the handover in 1997. The Chinese government made it clear to the British it didn't want to inherit a refugee crisis.
The lion's share of Vietnamese who landed in Hong Kong managed to make their way to new lands soon after the western world had a change of heart and laid out the welcome mat. Nearly half of those who came here ended up in the United States, which took in about 500,000 Vietnamese from 1980 until the close of the millennium. Australia, Canada, France and Britain were also welcoming.
This still left close to 2,000 boat people who remained in Hong Kong in a state of legal limbo. Officially, the problem was resolved in 2000, when the last of Hong Kong's refugee camps, Pillar Point, closed and its 1,400 inhabitants were issued identity cards. But the saga is far from finished - the government is still in the process of recovering from the United Nations the almost HK$2 billion tab for handling the migrants.

Apologies for the lack of site-specific detail, I did spend some time looking! The only real mention I found was a newspaper article describing a breakout in August 1998. I did manage to turn up a couple of historical photos though.

Above most likely shows the view from the observation tower marked on the plan earlier.

This is taken from a boat and shows the view of the landing pier and main entrance to the complex.

This was our transport for the day, run by an old local couple who spent the entire trip arguing like they were about to throw each other overboard. Green island is the larger of the two islands visible, with the smaller apparently being 'little green island'

The small building to the right hand side of the pier door was a generator building with a diesel set in situ, unfortunately there was barely room to enter, much less photograph it. Entering the pier section was a small room with heavy barred doors across the far side. I'm afraid it seems I don't have any pictures from there either.

From there we moved through to the area marked as communication room, kitchen, store office and armoury.

Next we passed the enclosed corridor which runs the length of the site and connects all the buildings. Walking straight through took us into the main administrative area.

There's an absolute ton of paperwork and such that's been left behind.

A hall was mostly empty rooms with a few odds and ends there.

The laundry store had some interesting items. If anyone can shed some light on Meat-resistant elastic, I'm listening.

Through the A hall was what looks to be another generator and some miscellaneous stores.

C hall was the low security area, which must have been where the breakout was made from.

Although even this looks more than intimidating.

D hall is a little more serious!

I'm more than convinced that there weren't any escapes from here. The roofs of each cell were built from the same bars as the fronts, with a two doors and another cage before you even enter the hall itself.

Anyway, that's your lot. Thanks for looking!



Bespectacled & irrelevant
Regular User
It's good this, I can't imagine there's many places the same. I don't see it changing any time soon either!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Green Island was a reporting point for aircraft coming up from the south west into the western harbour and I flew over it many times between 1994 and 1998 (but never got to visit). We were based at Kai Tak airport in those days. I left just before the airport moved in its entirety to Chek Lap Kok in June 98. Having seen these photos, I'm glad I didn't!