Archive for the Democracy Activists Category

The Release of Le Cong Dinh

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics with tags , , on February 10, 2013 by Ian Pham

LeCongDinhSeveral days ago, on February 6, 2013, human rights activist and Harvard-educated lawyer Le Cong Dinh was abruptly released from Vietnamese prison.  In 2009, Mr. Le was sentenced to 5 years by the Communist government for “spreading propaganda against the state,” which was basically defending human rights and peacefully expressing his views.  His release from prison is peculiar, since he has only served three years of his jail term so far.

Mr. Le is a prominent figure in Vietnam’s human rights movement.  Before his arrest, Le Cong Dinh openly opposed China’s bauxite mining on Vietnamese soil, a project that was harmful and destructive to Vietnam’s environment.  He is also a strong voice in defense of Vietnam’s human rights and democratic activists.  Furthermore, Mr. Le expressed his intention to sue Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party for their terrorist activities in the seas, and their nihilistic behavior towards Paracel and Spratly.

ViewMediaAs once can see, Mr. Le poses a threat to many.  Not only were the Communists in Vietnam worried about this man, but the Chinese were too alarmed by Le Cong Dinh’s activism.  This is what makes his recent release from prison so puzzling.  Given his track record, Le Cong Dinh is not someone the Communists would want in the streets.  If you ask me, since I’m such a skeptic, his recent release is simply a political maneuver by the party to get themselves back on America’s good graces.

Even though Mr. Le is released from confinement, there are still strings attached to his “freedom.”  Le Cong Dinh is currently under house arrest, for three years.  So even though he is no longer in prison, he still cannot leave the house and communicate with the outside world.  The upside of his release is that now he can be closer to his family, and that he is free from the horrid conditions of Vietnamese jail.

As far as human rights goes, the Communist still have no intention of making any improvements.  Though I am pleased that they have released Le Cong Dinh from jail, I am not impressed by the fact that he cannot even leave his house.  This is simply one of those tricks they play form time to time in an attempt to appear as though they are changing.  Their behavior is reminiscent of that dirt bag relative who occasionally shows up at your house.  That one relative who pretends they changed, begging you to throw them another dollar for them to carry on their worthless lives.  Before the Communists release Cu Huy Ha Vu or Viet Khang, I am not impressed.

The dirt bag relative is only a metaphor, of course.

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Viet Khang’s Verdict

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by Ian Pham

Alright, so a little over a week ago (October 30… Sorry we took a while), the Communist Party delivered their verdict on Viet Khang’s trial.  After a half-day of rigorous show-trialling, the Communist Party, Viet Khang was sentenced to four years in prison and a supposed two years of house arrest.

On trial with Viet Khang is fellow musician/songwriter Hoang Nhat Thong (his real name is Tran Vu Anh Binh), who is also sentenced to a harsh prison term of six years in prison.  Mr. Tran Vu Anh Binh wrote a song in honor of the democracy activist Dieu Cay, titled “Nguc Toi Hien Ngang”, or “Courage in the Dark prison”.

Viet Khang’s verdict is somewhat lighter than I expected (though it is still extremely harsh) when comparing to other democracy activists (Dieu Cay got 12 years).  This may or may not be due to the international attention given to Viet Khang’s case, and there was a lot of attention from the Vietnamese community around the world regarding Viet Khang.

It is not yet clear what the situation in Vietnam is like now that a sentence has been placed on Viet Khang.  What I am sure of however is that the arrests and unfair treatment of innocent people will continue.  It’s a long and arduous process but there is really no way the Party can ever regain their legitimacy.  They have demeaned themselves, the country, and the people of Vietnam for so long, it is no longer a tangible task for them to gain any respect from their people, the world, or each other.

A coward can only hide his cowardice for so long, and even then, he cannot fool himself into having courage.  As far as the Communist Party is concerned, they are surviving off borrowed time.  They can keep suppressing, they can keep censoring, and they can keep pretending they aren’t Chinese dogs.  However, they cannot wipe the blood off their hands, and they will never again look valiant and righteous in the eyes of their people.  Even the great regimes don’t last forever, and the Communists are definitely not the greats.

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.

Obama Mentions Vietnam Dissident in May 3rd Statement

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics with tags , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by Ian Pham

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:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/03/statement-president-world-press-freedom-day

Truc Ho’s Dedication and the Trip to Washington

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by Ian Pham

This past Monday, Vietnamese musical producer and democracy activist Truc Ho flew to Washington D.C., hoping to meet with the President of the United States.  Mr. Truc has been looking forward to this day, campaigning non-stop over the case of the imprisoned musician Viet Khang.  However, upon his arrival at the White House, Mr. Truc was not greeted by the President, or even a representive on his behalf.  What followed instead were a series of confusing events which many are still trying to understand.

The full details of what happened at the White House is still unclear, the only certainty is that there was miscommunication, on many fronts.  According to sources, Mr. Truc was expected at the White House, but his hosts were unclear on who they were meeting.  The officials at the White House had organized a conference briefing on the leaders of the Vietnamese youth, thinking that Truc Ho was a leader of this group.  When Truc Ho arrived in the conference room, he thought he was in the wrong place.  To his surprise, this room was meant for him.

When it became clear that the White House officials had made a mistake, Truc Ho had to explain to them that he was not a leader of the Vietnamese youth.  He was simply a democracy activist trying to raise the issue of human rights in Vietnam to the U.S. government.  After this disappointing ordeal, Mr. Truc Ho departed from the White House and proceeded outside to his many supporters at the White House entrance.  Many of Truc Ho’s supporters had made the trip to Wasington with him, showing that they are behind him 100%.

In the end, Mr. Truc Ho did not meet President Obama, though he was contacted by the White House at the beginning.  Even so, this event should not be labelled as a failure.  Because of his efforts, Truc Ho was able to spread awareness across the globe about the human rights abuses in Vietnam.  Not only did he capture the attention of the Vietnamese in the United States, but in many other countries all over the world.  In 30 short days, Truc Ho’s petition had achieved 149,050 signatures!  Thanks to him, citizens in America, Canada, Australia, France, and many other nations know of Viet Khang and Vietnam’s desperate need for change.

This struggle for freedom and democracy in Vietnam is not a one step process.  It is long and difficult, with many challenges and obstacles along the way.  The belief that President Barack Obama was going fix all of Vietnam’s problems was simply too good to be true.  Truc Ho may not have met with the President, but his movement was a success.  I commend Mr. Truc Ho, along with his team over at SBTN for all of their hard work.  Thanks to them, the Vietnamese across the world are united.  Not only that, but the people in Vietnam now know we are out there, and that we stand behind them no matter what.  This is not the end, people, this is only the beginning.  Freedom for Vietnam.

In Honor of Viet Khang

Posted in Democracy Activists, IV. Columns, Music, Politics, Society, Videos with tags , , , , , , on February 4, 2012 by Ian Pham

Viet Khang’s music is so powerful and moving that it would be a crime (no pun intended) not to share it with all of you.  It is unfortunate that not all of us can understand his music, as Viet Khang’s songs are performed in Vietnamese.  Do not fret however, for Vietnamese American music producer Truc Ho feels your pain, and was gracious enough to alleviate this language barrier with English subtitles for his version of “Who Are You?”.

Truc Ho did a good job on this interpretation of Viet Khang’s song, assembling a group of musicians under his label to help him sing.  Performing with Truc Ho is Dan Nguyen, Mai Thanh Son, Quoc Khanh, and Doan Phi.  The artists performed the song passionately, enough to bring justice to Viet Khang’s music.  Plus, it comes with English subtitles!  So even if you are not a fluent speaker of Vietnamese, you too can understand the powerful message Viet Khang is aiming to deliver.

The video briefly features a speech given by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.  Ms. Sanchez has done much to help represent the Vietnamese community in the state of California, and continues to do so today.  Frequently, the Congresswoman has pushed the U.S. government to take a tougher stance on the human rights situation in Vietnam, proving herself to be a valuable ally to the Vietnamese community overseas.

I’ve said this before and will continue to say it.  Viet Khang is a talented and courageous man.  Because of him, not only are the Vietnamese abroad learning about the Communists, but the people within are becoming aware of their crimes as well.  He knew that performing his music would get him arrested, but he went through with it nonetheless.  As a leader, and as a patriot, Viet Khang is not afraid to die.  He has showed us that he is willing to sacrifice himself for the country, something that the entire Communist Party does not have the guts to do.

Viet Khang has more courage in his voice than all 3,000,000 members of the Vietnamese Communist Party combined.  For this remarkable reason, I continue to castigate the Communist Party, and commend the courage and honor of Viet Khang, the great singing patriot of Vietnam.  Like the heroes before him, Viet Khang has demonstrated what one courageous act can do for humanity.  Now think, what would happen if every single citizen came together, as one unitary force, to liberate Vietnam from the grips of these sordid criminals who call themselves the Communist Party.  If one man was able to drive the entire system insane, imagine what we could do together.  The possibilities are boundless, let’s stand together.

A Song by Viet Khang – Anh La Ai (Who Are You)?

Posted in Democracy Activists, Music, Politics, Society, Videos with tags , , , , on February 1, 2012 by Ian Pham

This is the second song composed by Viet Khang, titled “Anh La Ai?” or “Who Are You?”.  The core issues tackled in this song involves the unjust repression of the people by the Communist police and, once again, the humiliating submission by the Vietnamese government to the Chinese.  As the title suggests, the question that Viet Khang is asking to the police is basically “who are you?” or more specifically, “who do you think you are?”.

The Vietnamese Communists have long been criticized for their suppression of the Vietnamese people for protesting against China.  Viet Khang also addresses this issue in his song, asking the Communists how they are able to condemn the patriotism of their own people.  In raising these issues, Viet Khang is courageously putting the Communist Party to shame and showing them how pathetic they really are.

I’ve shared the original version of the song, sang by Viet Khang.  It includes Vietnamese lyrics for my Vietnamese speakers who want to learn the song as well.  To all of my English and non-Vietnamese speakers, I have not forgotten about you!  There is another version of “Anh La Ai?”, sang by Vietnamese American musicians.  Though the video is still in Vietnamese, there are English subtitles, so that you too can know what Viet Khang wants to say.

I will share the English subtitled version of “Anh La Ai?” next time, which I promise you, will be very soon.  For now, please get acquainted with the Vietnamese version of “Who Are You?”, the second musical achievement of Viet Khang.  At this point in time, Viet Khang is still in jail, and the Communist Party is still losing their minds from the impact that his music has made.  We will continue to support Viet Khang, making sure that every Vietnamese around the world hears his music.