Archive for October, 2012

The Trial of Viet Khang

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2012 by Ian Pham

I’ve got a small shred of good news about the whereabouts of Viet Khang, followed by a heavy dose of bad news.  The good news, Viet Khang is still alive.  The bad news, that’s about all we know of him.  Ever since his arrest earlier this year, Viet Khang has been in the custody of the Communist Party police for his criticism of the Communist Party through song.  There is no doubt that he has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment for having the courage to shame the Communists for the Chinese sheep-dogs they really are.  In the coming days, the Party will put him on “trial”, so obviously, justice will not be served.

The outcome of the trial is as predictable as a sliced bread.  The judges, juries, and executioners will all be members of the Communist Party, the heroic Viet Khang will not get a chance to defend himself, and then the Communists will pretend that the “verdict” came from processes of deliberation and debate.  The trial is all a load of bull, we will all see right through it, but the Communists will still insist that the trial was fair.  The question is not whether he will get sentenced or not, but how long and severe the punishment will be.  The Communists are no strangers to incarceration, torture, and execution, all are possibilities in the case of Viet Khang.  This is actually the troubling part for those of us watching form the outside.

If the Communists are smart, which they aren’t really, they will sentence Viet Khang to a few short years in jail, this is the best case scenario.  If the Communists are stupid, which they are, they will sentence Viet Khang to over a decade in prison, exile him, or even sentence him to death.  They probably won’t be so stupid to publicly declare his death sentence, as it could cause public outrage, backfire, and even spark social unrest, but at the same time, they’re Communists, they’re stupid.

Given the magnitude of Viet Khang’s actions, it is most likely that he will be receiving a long jail sentence lasting for a decade or more.  Viet Khang is internationally famous among the Vietnamese community for writing two songs, “Anh La Ai (Who Are You)?”, tackling the topic of Vietnamese police brutality, corruption, and cowardice, and “Viet Nam Toi Dau (Where’s My Vietnam)?” shaming the Vietnamese Communist Party for selling out the country to the Chinese and devastating Vietnam with their greed and corruption.

From the outside, it may look like there is nothing we can do to help Viet Khang.  In the physical, this may be true, but morally, spiritually, and especially politically, there are many things we can do.  Morally, just support Viet Khang’s cause, and believe that everything he’s done up to now has not been in vain.  Spiritually, pray for Viet Khang, send your thoughts out to him, and do not lose hope.  Politically, support Viet Khang, spread the word of his music, and make sure that everyone from this generation onward knows of his courage, strength, and his selfless acts.  Also, make sure to support Truc Ho and his tireless efforts to bring democracy and human rights to Vietnam.

Musical producer and political activist Truc Ho has been fighting endlessly to create awareness for Viet Khang’s cause.  Mr. Truc has been, and continues to lobby U.S. politicians, as well as the international community at large, on behalf of human rights in Vietnam.  He has also fought to bring awareness and international support for Viet Khang’s cause.  Needless to say, he’s done more than a fair bit to help the democracy and human rights movement in Vietnam.

Not everyone can do what Truc Ho has done, but everyone can do something to help the cause.  I myself can write, therefore I write on this blog to spread the word about Vietnam’s situation and what we can do to help.  Truc Ho has his many contacts, his music company, and his new television network to create awareness on a massive scale.  We all have many unique skills that can help the cause.  We live all over the world, and we all work in different places.  However, we all believe that Vietnam deserves freedom, and that Viet Khang too deserves his freedom.  For now, we wait, we hope, and we pray.  Tomorrow, we will be the change.

The Culture of Vietnam: Lasting Through the Ages

Posted in Ancient History, Dynastic History, I. News, IV. Columns with tags , , on October 6, 2012 by Ian Pham

Our next topic of discussion involves three very different cultures: that of Vietnam, China, and Manchuria.  One culture, Manchu culture, serves its place in history as China’s invader and occupier.  The other culture, Vietnamese culture, acts as China’s eternal rival, and at one dark point in its history, as China’s prisoner.  Interestingly, the ones that acted as China’s overlords, the Manchus, would find their cultural heritage wiped from the face of the earth.  On the other hand, Vietnamese culture, though dominated by the Chinese for 1000 years, will prevail, even to this very day.

What makes Vietnam different from Manchuria?  How is it possible that the people of Vietnam, through 1000 years of occupation and assimilation from the invaders from the north, came to sustain their cultural and ethnic identity?  Furthermore, how did the Manchus, effectively dethroning the Ming in 1644 and ruled all of China until 1912, see their way of life, their language, and their culture vanish in less than 300 years?  The answer to this question, at least form my own analysis, is culture.

The three cultures mentioned above all varied in depth, richness, and sophistication.  Whichever culture to most strongly display these three qualities was more likely to last.  Unfortunately for the Manchus, their culture was the least likely to embody these qualities and, as a result, their culture was inevitably absorbed by the culture of the Han.  Though the Manchu started out as the foreign overlords of the Chinese empire, they would gradually and increasingly adapt the customs and practices of the Chinese.  Overtime, they would become Chinese themselves.  This is where Vietnam and Manchuria differentiate, and this is where Vietnam prevails.

Du Mien Le Thanh Hoa, the author of Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization suggests that Vietnam prevailed because of the strength of its culture.  According to him, Vietnam’s culture was simply higher than Chinese culture.  It was older, and more enshrined in the hearts and minds of the people of Viet.  Thus, even when facing the jarring threat of Chinese assimilation, the Viet people continued to practice their culture.  This persistence helped to safeguard the existence of Vietnamese culture.

Through all the hardship, Vietnam’s culture prevails, even to this day.  For thousands of years, our traditions have been upheld, our language preserved.  The legend of Lac Long Quan, the ancient folklore, and the songs of antiquity have been passed down from generation to generation.  These foundations remind us who we are, but more importantly, who we are not.  Through the darkest periods of foreign domination, our culture has kept us alive.  Our ways of life have lived through the ages, and today, they are more important than ever.