The statue, called Mémorial pour les Ouvriers Indochinois, is located at Salin-de-Giraud, a village at the mouth of the Rhone River in Bouches-du-Rhône.

An inaugural ceremony was held for the statue on October 5 in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

The 2m-tall steel statue is placed on a platform, which bears inscriptions in French and Vietnamese.

It vividly depicts a farmer with a hoe, who is ready to work in the paddy field with a cheerful attitude instead of the submissive, miserable look of a slave in a foreign land.

Its creator, Le Ba Dang, is one of the Vietnamese artists who have a successful career in France and Europe.

According to the officials in the French locality, the statue is of immense historical significance to 20,000 Vietnamese people who were made forced laborers in France during the Second World War.

Though the laborers were not soldiers, they were treated under a stringent military regime.

Speaking at the statue inauguration ceremony, Kader Arif – Junior Minister for Veterans at the French Ministry of Defense – acknowledged the Vietnamese laborers’ contributions to Bouches-du-Rhône in passing on rice growing techniques.

In September 1939, when the Second World War just broke out, the French government conscripted 20,000 Vietnamese laborers to work in factories, paddy, and salt fields in France.

From 1948 to 1952, most of them returned to Vietnam, without receiving pensions from the French government.

More than 1,000 of them died in France during that time.

Tuoi Tre News - October 10, 2014