Archive for the VI. Features Category

The New Dissidents, Vietnam’s New Hope

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2013 by Ian Pham

ChongPhaNhaNuoc+CAcsvnIt has been an eventful month in Vietnam with regards to the freedom movement.  The situation is still bleak, as the Communist Party is still unwilling to improve on human rights, and the crackdowns are only getting harsher.  However, even with the continued brutality of the dictatorship, their is much to be optimistic about, for the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese youth is just beginning to come to fruition.

In recent weeks, a series of crackdowns have permeated Vietnam, leading to a wide range of arrests all across the country.  Though this may be ordinary in the Communist state, the outcome of these arrests are anything but normal.  One very notable case, involving two young dissidents, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Uyen and Mr. Dinh Nguyen Kha, paints an extremely hopeful picture for the future of a Vietnam in need.

NguyenPhuongUyen-DinhNguyenKhaLike many before them, the two dissidents were detained by the Vietnam government, simply because of their patriotic sentiments in the face of Chinese aggression.  Following their arrests, the Communist Party would put the young woman and man on a show trial before slapping them with harsh jail terms.  At the show trial however, the captives would do something that has never been done before: Speak out publicly against the Vietnamese Communist Party, against the Chinese aggressors, and against the entire repressive regime.

With neither fear or remorse, Nguyen Phuong Uyen, a young university student, shamed the Communist Party for their cowardice, as well as their pathetic display against the invading Chinese.  Her eloquence and courage left the judge and jury dumbfounded, embarrassed by Ms. Uyen’s insight and brutal honesty.  Mr. Kha expressed similar sentiments, and was also unapologetic for his patriotism and denouncement of the Communist Party.

LogoTTVN-300x300As a result, the two are sentenced to excessive jail times.  Nguyen Phuong Uyen is faced with a 6-year jail term plus 3 years house arrest, while Dinh Nguyen Kha is hit with 10 years, with 3 years house arrest.  Uyen and Kha are both members of an underground movement in Vietnam who call themselves Tuoi Tre Yeu Nuoc, which translates to The Patriotic Youth.  Not much is known about them, but from the looks of things, they are not afraid of the Communist Party, nor are they content with sitting idly by while the Vietnamese Communists let the country slip closer and closer into the grips of Beijing.

I will work to keep you updated on the situation.  For now, it looks like there is a new generation of dissidents.  They are young, they are intelligent, and they are no longer afraid to stand face to face with the cowardly Party.  The Communists grow weaker with each passing day, and now, it is no longer a guarantee that they can keep the people down.

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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.

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.

Philip Rösler’s Story

Posted in Inspirational People, IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2012 by Ian Pham

If you have not yet heard about Germany’s Vice Chancellor, Phillip Rösler, here’s a nice little summary.  Phillip Rösler currently serves as the Federal Republic of Germany’s Vice Chancellor, as well as the country’s Federal Minister of Economics and Technology.  He was previously the German Minister of Health in 2009 before rising to greater heights in 2011 to current.  Rösler is a German national, but his roots lay in Vietnam…  Impressed yet?

Though the actual birth date of Phillip Rösler is unknown, the German government classifies it as February 24, 1973.  He was born in the former Republic of Vietnam, but lost his parents during infancy.  He was then adopted into a German family, who moved him out of war-torn South Vietnam all the way to the democratic West Germany.  From then on, the child from Vietnam would live his life German, under the guidance of his father, a professional military man.

Rösler also served in the German military, acting as a medical soldier in the army’s Bundeswehr.  At the same time, Rösler rose through the ranks of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, becoming the party’s secretary general in only 8 short years in 1992.  He also studied medicine at Hanover Medical School in Germany and went on to become a haert surgeon.  In a very short period of time, both Rösler’s medical and political careers reached astronomical heights.

In 2009, Philip Rösler was appointed as Germany’s Minister of Health.  By 2011, Rösler became Germany’s Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Chairman of the FDP, and the Vice Chancellor of Germany.  Today, Rösler is second only to the current German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.  What makes Philip Rösler so remarkable is not just his accomplishments, but also where he achieved them.

Not only has Philip Rösler elevated to astronomical heights in both his political and medical careers, he achieved them in an extremely difficult environment.  German society, though very tolerant and cosmopolitan, is still more favorable of Caucasians than Asians in terms of selectivity.  For this reason, it is incredible that Rösler, a Vietnamese ethnic, was able to rise through the ranks to hold three big government positions and become the second most powerful individual in the FRG.

His accomplishments, in conjunction with his Vietnamese roots, just goes to show what Vietnam’s people are capable of great things if given the opportunity.  Just imagine if Rösler remained in Vietnam all his life, would he have been able to use his talents the way he did in Germany?  It’s pretty hard to imagine, right?

Instead of fostering the talent of the people, the VCP simply stifles them, casts them aside, and keeps them in submission.  There are many Rösler’s in Vietnam, sadly, the Party is incapable of ever utilizing these talents.  This is just another example of how the Communist Party of Vietnam has failed its people.  The VCP punishes intelligence and rewards idiocy.  By now however, given all of the stupidity the VCP has shown, I am incapable of feeling any surprise for them anymore.

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.