Vu Gia Po (C), 37, at the Benazir Bhutto Airport in Pakistan. Photo by Na Son
An illiterate Vietnamese national who speaks only his native H’mong language has arrived home after traveling thousands of kilometers from southern China into Pakistain, crossing two militarized, disputed borders.
Vu Gia Po, 37, arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport on May 11, more than two years after reportedly being lured into slave labor in China and fleeing from his violent employers.
His wife, Ly Thi Lia, traveled all the way from their remote home in Meo Vac District in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang to welcome her husband home.
“I thought he died because I did not receive any information about him. I was really surprised when people said he's still alive,” she said.
After being welcomed by Lia and a group of H’mong students in Hanoi, Po was taken home by Meo Vac District authorities.
Last October, it took the Pakistani police almost three months and lots of effort to confirm his nationality and inform the Vietnamese embassy in Islamabad of his whereabouts.
He had been found wandering on foot without any identification in the town of Athmuqam near the border with India.
No one at the embassy could communicate with him either because he spoke no Vietnamese, but suspected his origins after someone in Athmuqam showed him flags and currencies from countries in the region and he became excited by those belonging to Vietnam, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
Although the Vietnamese embassy in Islamabad has began the process of sending him home in early April, it took more than a month before his actual return because he was found in a sensitive, disputed border region between Pakistan and India.
Po was charged with illegal migration into the “sensitive area” where even foreign diplomats can get held for up to a month pending visa permissions. Moreover, he was found outside Taliban-controlled territory.
All procedures were completed on May 6.
Three days later, the Athmuqam police station in Neelum assigned two officers to take Po to Benazir Bhutto Airport in Islamabad, more than 700 kilometers away.
It remains a mystery how Vu Gia Po got lost in Pakistan. As of press time, a Thanh Nien News reporter was making way to the man's remote village to further investigate.
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