Obama Mentions Vietnam Dissident in May 3rd Statement
Over one month ago, on May 3, 2012, a world celebration known as World Press Freedom Day was held in Carthage, Tunisia. Many world leaders delivered messages of celebration and commemoration that day, including President Barack Obama. The President included many prominent names in his statements. One of which was Dieu Cay, a well known democracy activist imprisoned by the Vietnamese government since 2008.
In the words of President Obama,
“As we condemn recent detentions of journalists like Mazen Darwish, a leading proponent of free speech in Syria, and call for their immediate release, we must not forget others like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam, or journalist Dawit Isaak who has been held incommunicado by the Eritrean government for over a decade without formal charge or trial.”
Dieu Cay is the pen name for Vietnamese blogger and freedom activist Nguyen Van Hai. He has been detained by the Communist government in Vietnam since 2008 for protesting China’s actions in Tibet, the Spratly Islands, and criticizing the country’s Olympic torch relay. Idiotically, yet unsurprisingly, the Vietnamese government imprisoned Dieu Cay under the charges “tax evasion”, which is bogus to say the least.
Following his release in 2010, Dieu Cay continued to express his opinions on his blog, before being harassed and imprisoned by the Communist Police once again. To this day, blogger Nguyen “Dieu Cay” Van Hai is still serving time in Vietnamese jail for charges of “conducting propaganda against the state”. He is currently facing a possible 20 years in prison, unless he pleads guilty to the bogus charges and concedes to the Communists. International pressure on the Vietnamese government may help reduce this sentence, as Dieu Cay refuses to plead guilty.
It is a wonder what caught the attention of President Obama to Vietnam’s current human rights situation. Though it is true that he was aware of the matter, he had yet to publicly speak out in defense of a single dissident, until May 3, that is. One very viable possibility, is the recent surge of information and momentum made possible by Mr. Truc Ho, the White House petition, and the music of Viet Khang.
We have said in the past that the president listens, now we know that he listens. Not only does the president listen however, but he also speaks. Whether you recognize it or not, President Obama wants the votes of Vietnamese Americans, and is now starting to reach out to the Vietnamese community in the U.S. As members of a proud and democratic nation, we can help foster this movement by exercising our democratic rights. It’s election season, people. Let’s show the candidates that we got the vote.
For the full statement by President Obama on Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2012, click here: