|Founders of BPSOS to be presented Community Legacy Award at BPSOS Gala|
We would like to honor BPSOS’ founders for their outstanding services and contributions toward organization’s mission. Without their personal sacrifice, solid determination, long-term dedication and commitment, we would not have BPSOS today. The Community Legacy Award goes to:
BPSOS was founded over three decades ago to protect Vietnamese boat people from pirate attacks as they crossed the Gulf of Thailand on flimsy boats in search of freedom. Uncountable families were robbed and brutalized, men murdered, and women and girls raped or abducted. In 1979 a group of writers and authors who survived the most horrendous atrocities at the hands of the pirates launched a call for help to the world, soon after their arrival in a refugee camp in Thailand. A group of prominent Vietnamese American academicians at University of California in San Diego responded. The two groups, one in Thailand and the other in the United States, joined forces to found BPSOS, which began operation January 1980. In the ensuing ten years, BPSOS’ directly rescued over 3,300 boat people through its rescue-at-sea missions and assisted the United Nations and governments in the rescue of tens of thousands more.
In 1990, BPSOS moved from San Diego to Northern Virginia in response to the international community’s policy shift: the boat people were no longer considered bona fide refugees but economic migrants to be detained and deported. The original BPSOS closed operation along with its rescue-at-sea missions. Its DC Chapter incorporated a new BPSOS with a new mandate: to defend the refugee rights of the boat people interred in detention centers in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Through legal assistance to the boat people, BPSOS documented the flawed policies of first asylum countries. Through advocacy, BPSOS successfully enlisted the support of key members of the US Congress, who effected a policy change by the US government. This two-pronged effort resulted in the resettlement to America of close to twenty thousand boat people after their repatriation to Vietnam.
In its third decade, as the Vietnamese boat people saga had essentially ended, BPSOS adopted a new mission: to empower, organize and equip Vietnamese-Americans in their pursuit of liberty and dignity in their new homeland. Entering its fourth decade, BPSOS builds a nationwide movement to advance the Vietnamese-American community in all sectors and expands its overseas operation to include combatting human trafficking, protecting refugees, and promoting civil society in Asia.
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