Archive for Democracy Activists

More Dissident Imprisonment in Vietnam

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by Ian Pham

“One wonders what exactly the government of Vietnam is so afraid of that an elderly old man like Nguyen Van Lia, who has dedicated his life to religion, should frighten them so much that they feel the need to lock him away in prison.”

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch, Asia Division

The waves of crackdowns and arrests never end in the SRV (Socialist Republic of Vietnam).  This time, the “lucky” recipients of the brutal regime are Tran Haoi An and Nguyen Van Lia.  The duo have been detained and charged with “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” which is just as preposterous as it sounds.  What are these “democratic” freedoms that the government speaks of?  It is ridiculous that the VCP would even use that word as part of a charge against the people.  If their were democratic freedoms, this case wouldn’t even be happening.

Tran Haoi An and Nguyen Van Lia are members of the Hoa Hao Buddhist sect, and, like the Christians, are feared by the Vietnamese government for their religious affiliations.  Tran and Nguyen were captured in April with books, CDs, DVDs, and documents that were said to point out the abuses of the Communist government and pressing for religious freedom.  The recent trial has sentenced the elderly Nguyen Van Lia, who is 71 years old, to five years in jail.  Tran Hoai An’s sentence is lesser with three years in prison.

Human Rights Watch has demanded the immediate release of the Buddhist activists, most likely to further non-compliance by the Vietnamese government.  As always, there is widespread criticism of the Communist Party’s poor treatment of political dissidents.  Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch brings into question why the Vietnamese government is so afraid of an elderly old man like Nguyen Van Lia, and would go as far as sentencing him to five years in prison.  It is sad and pathetic, but then again, it is the Communist Party, not surprised.

Coverage provided by BBC and The Associated Press.

Recent Crackdowns Of Vietnamese Activists

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2011 by Ian Pham

The Vietnamese authorities have heated up their crackdowns in recent weeks.  With the arrests of many Vietnamese activists who have risen to defend victims of the Communist government, human rights activism is steadily becoming a  recurring force that the government has to deal with.  Among the persecuted are four land-rights activists, a lawyer, and a college professor (pictured right).

The land-rights activists have taken up some cases in defence of individuals who have been victimized by the land grabbing Communist Party.  One high profile case involved families living in south Mekong Delta whose homes are being confiscated, stolen, by the Vietnamese government.  The four activists involved in this case are pastor Duong Kim Khai, activists Cao Van Tinh, Tran Thi Thuy, and Doan Thai Duyen Hai.

Also, Vietnamese lawyer Huynh Van Dong has been suspended from practicing law for taking part in the defence of human rights activists.  The Vietnamese government has found him “guilty” of contempt for the court, “disrespecting the law,” and his attempts to “degrade the credibility and offend the Communist Party of Vietnam.”  Huynh Van Dong also represented democracy activists Pham Van Thong and Tran Thi Thuy in their preliminary trials.

Last week, college professor Pham Minh Hoang was charged with “subversion” and spreading “propaganda against the state,” both of which are common charges for dissidents and democracy activists.  Pham Minh Hoang is a French educated Vietnamese returning home to help develop the country through education and knowledge.  However, Pham Minh Hoang’s qualifications have somehow become a threat to the government, so the professor/blogger has been sentenced to three years in jail by the ruling Communist Party.

The crackdowns seem to be more frequent in Vietnam as of late.  Whether the democracy movement is gaining momentum or the Party has just spruced up their security forces is yet to be determined.  In any case, it is apparent that democracy is becoming more understood as a necessity in Vietnam.  There are many facing jail time for their dauntless activism of human rights and democracy, a movement that will only grow stronger with time.

Freedom Fighters: A List of Democracy Activists Jailed in Vietnam (Updated)

Posted in Democracy Activists, IV. Columns, Politics, Society with tags , on August 5, 2011 by Ian Pham

The political situation in Vietnam, as I have often illustrated, is quite bleak. Dozens of democracy activists are arrested by the truckload (well, not exactly a truckload).  Some are prominent professionals while others are just common citizens disillusioned by the poor governing of the VCP.  I’ve mentioned a few of them, though I have yet been given the chance to write much about them.  These people have been nurturing the freedom movement, risking their lives to better Vietnam as a whole.  These are only but a few of the courageous faces in this fight for freedom, it’s time we got to know them.

1. Cu Huy Ha Vu

Mr. Ha Vu was recently convicted (2011) for advocating multiparty democracy in Vietnam and twice suing Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for his concessions to China at the expense of the Vietnamese people.  He courageously stood up to the Communist Party of Vietnam despite his high-standings within this Communist system.  Furthermore, he has presented the idea of further strengthening of relations with the United States.

2. Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly

Father Ly has been convicted since 2007 for his open criticism of the Vietnamese government’s human rights abuse.  He is also one of the prominent faces of Vietnam’s democracy movement, lobbying the Party for more religious and personal freedoms.  Though Father Ly was released by the Communist government on humanitarian grounds, having suffered several strokes during his incarceration, the government recently sent him back to jail for fear of his influence among the Vietnamese Catholics.

3. Le Cong Dinh

Incarcerated since 2009, Mr. Dinh caught the eye of the Vietnamese government, the Vietnamese population, and even the United States, when he vowed to sue China in the international court for their naval crimes in the Southeast Asia Sea.  In fear of offending China and a challenge to their own authority, the Vietnamese government convicted Mr. Dinh, sentencing him to 5 years in jail.  Le Cong Dinh is a prominent Vietnamese lawyer with a law degree form the U.S., he has taken part in many human rights defence cases in Vietnam, and has also shown his support for multiparty democracy in Vietnam.

4. Le Thi Cong Nhan

Attorney Le Thi Cong Nhan was arrested by Vietnamese police in 2007 for her own views on democracy for Vietnam, expressing her visions of a just and free country.  Ms. Nhan also advocated an independent labor union, further threatening the Communist Party’s authority.  During her incarceration, Ms. Nhan was offered a chance for amnesty to the United States, an offer that she rejected.  Le Thi Cong Nhan wanted to remain true to her struggle, refusing to leave the people who need her.  Though she has finished her three year prison sentence, Le Thi Cong Nhan is still held under house arrest by the Communist government.  Even so, she has vowed to continue her fight for freedom and justice.

5. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy’s first arrest took place in early 2007.  As a blogger and writer, some of her work was deemed harmful by the Vietnamese government, she was imprisoned for 9 months as a result.  During her detention, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was denied critical medical treatment that she desperately needed, as she was suffering from diabetes and tuberculosis.  Following her detention, Ms. Thuy was kept under strict house arrest by the police, who harassed her and her family daily.  Her house was vandalized, and members of her family were continually beaten by both policemen and hired thugs.  In 2009, following one of many altercations with the Communist cops/thugs, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was once again held in detention by the Communist police.  She was jailed for another 2 years until 2011, when she was granted amnesty to the United States.  Tran Khai Thanh Thuy currently resides in the United States with her daughter, away from Communist hands.

The Faces of Freedom

This is just a short list of the many people out there who are fighting for the freedom of Vietnam.  There are many bright and courageous people besides these five individuals who have risked, and continue to risk their lives to bring a positive change to Vietnam.  They do so with full knowledge of the dangers associated with going up against the Communist Party goliath.  This democracy movement may still be young, but in time it will become strong.  This Communist rule has gone on for too long, and the problems that the Party currently face is a sign that their legitimacy is wearing thin.  Though we can’t determine when the change is going to come, we can be certain that it will come, no matter what.  We are the real people of Vietnam, we will prevail.


*** Update (January 17, 2016): Due to recent findings and developments, Cu Huy Ha Vu is no longer recognized as a freedom fighter by Freedom For Vietnam. He is hereby blackballed from this list.

Cu Huy Ha Vu’s Appeal

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , on August 2, 2011 by Ian Pham

One of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, Cu Huy Ha Vu, was in court yesterday for his appeal trial. Once again, Mr. Ha Vu courageously reverberated his support for a multiparty state, despite persecution from the ruling Communist Party.  According to the New York Times, Mr. Ha Vu asked that the court dismiss his current case.  Ha Vu stated that his main objective was not to go against the Party.  Instead, Mr. Ha Vu wanted to promote multiparty democracy for Vietnam, so that healthy competition between parties can help to benefit the nation.

Though this is a perfectly viable argument, the Vietnamese government does not tolerate any opposition to their one-party rule.  Therefore, it does not look good for Mr. Ha Vu’s case.  The Communist government will likely continue to persecute Cu Huy Ha Vu, persisting that he was breaking the law in some way, using incoherent and often fabricated evidence to support their claims.  Many of Cu Huy Ha Vu’s supporters held signs and banners outside the courtroom, showing that they are behind Mr. Ha Vu in his fight for political reform.

The democracy movement in Vietnam might not be very strong right now, but there are many courageous and intelligent people waiting for their chance to lead this fight for freedom.  Cu Huy Ha Vu is a prime example of what we’re capable of when we find a cause worth fighting for.  Though the government tries to shut him down with all their might, it is clear that many people are on his side.  In order to rebuild the country, the people of Vietnam need to be free.  It is only a matter of time before this dream is realized.

U.S. Diplomat Assaulted by Communist Police in Vietnam

Posted in Democracy Activists, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2011 by Ian Pham

Above: U.S. Ambassador Michael W. Michalak calls the police’s attack on Christian Marchant an “incident of grave concern” between the two countries.

Just this week, U.S. Diplomat Christian Marchant was attacked by several Vietnamese policemen while on his way to visit Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic Priest and prominent democracy activist.  If the allegations are true, Marchant was cornered by Vietnamese cops in the city of Hue, and subsequently thrown around and harassed by the Communist police.

As a result, the United States have released a formal protest against the Vietnamese government, recalling the American ambassador from Vietnam.  According to the New York Times, the U.S. ambassador Michael W. Michalak describes the Communist attack on Marchant as “an incident of grave concern.”  Sources also claim that the Communist police repeatedly slammed a door against the legs of the American diplomat.

Not only is this a disrespectful act on the Communists’ end, it is an embarrassment to the country as a whole.  The American diplomat is a foreign representative to the country of Vietnam and should not, under any circumstances, be subjected to that type of abuse.  An attack on a foreign representative signifies that the Vietnamese government clearly does not care about international law and human rights.  They blatantly disregarded international rules, crossing the line against a valuable potential ally.

What does this mean for U.S.-Vietnamese relations?  It is too soon to tell.  However, under these circumstances, one should not expect the U.S. government to show any leniency to the Vietnamese Communist Party.  Even I think that what the Communists did was over the line.  The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a government that does not respect human rights, and this latest act of stupidity just made it painfully clear in the eyes of all the world.

Just when one thinks that the Communist leadership in Vietnam could not get any stupider, they go and alienate their newest, most valuable ally.  The United States has turned a blind eye on human rights in recent negotiations in hopes that Vietnam would slowly learn and reconstruct.  It is now all too clear that these guys are way too dumb to make it happen, disrespecting international law to target Marchant, a man who should be treated with courtesy and respect, as he is a foreign representative.  The new relationship that the Communists have been working so hard to cultivate with the Americans is now hanging by a thread.  Idiots.

Ly Tong and The Pepper Spraying Incident

Posted in Politics, Society, Videos with tags , , on August 13, 2010 by Ian Pham

Ly Tong is a democracy activist and self proclaimed freedom fighter of Vietnamese Democracy.  Dam Vinh Hung is a recording artist and member of the Vietnamese Communist Party.  The singer was performing at a concert in San Jose when Ly Tong, disguised as a female fan, waved a flower in his direction.  What Dam Vinh Hung didn’t know was that Ly Tong had pepper spray hidden behind the flowers.  When Hung reached for the flowers, Ly Tong maced the singer in his face.

Hung’s performance in San Jose was part of a bigger Communist plot, known as “Initiative 36” (see August 12, 2010).  Many Vietnamese people protested Dam Vinh Hung for this very reason, but the organizers went on with the show anyway.  Since peaceful protests didn’t work, Ly Tong decided to take action by different means, going after the Party directly.  This was the reason he maced Dam Vinh Hung, and this is the reason he is currently being charged.

Not everyone is aware of the VCP’s intentions, these people are the most vulnerable to their tricks.  The Vietnamese oversees who are less informed about the happenings in Vietnam are more likely to be taken in by this propaganda, and they are the Party’s target audience.  Dam Vinh Hung is not just a singer, he is a Communist member.  He is not just performing, he is marketing the Vietnamese Communist Party.  This is why Ly Tong did what he did, to combat the Communists attempt to come after the Vietnamese oversees.

Watch Ly Tong pepper spray Dam Vinh Hung in the video below: