November, 21 2020
Vietnam Human Rights Award 2020 Winners Announced
Little Saigon, CA. USA - Due to the constraints of the COVID-19 epidemic, this year, the Vietnam Human Rights Network announced the results of the Vietnam Human Rights Award 2020 via the Internet instead of a press conference as usual. The event was held at 8AM (California time, 5PM in Western Europe, and 11PM in Vietnam) on Saturday, November 21, 2020, and live broadcast via Facebook and Youtube.
Present at the meeting were Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung, Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket,
Fr. Dang Huu Nam, and Atty. Nguyen Van Dai. The Award winners' representatives
were also invited to the meeting. They are Ms. Nguyen Thi Tinh, wife of prisoner
of conscience Nguyen Nang Tinh; Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, sister of prisoner of
conscience Nguyen Van Hoa; and journalist JB Nguyen Huu Vinh, representative of
Vietnam Association of Independent Journalists. There were two other special
guests, Professor Nguyen Thanh Giau, Chairman of the Vietnamese Inter-Faith
Council in USA, and Engineer Do Nhu Dien, Director of Dap Loi Song Nui Radio.
Present at the meeting were Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung, Professor Nguyen Chinh Ket, Fr. Dang Huu Nam, and Atty. Nguyen Van Dai. The Award winners' representatives were also invited to the meeting. They are Ms. Nguyen Thi Tinh, wife of prisoner of conscience Nguyen Nang Tinh; Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, sister of prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Hoa; and journalist JB Nguyen Huu Vinh, representative of Vietnam Association of Independent Journalists. There were two other special guests, Professor Nguyen Thanh Giau, Chairman of the Vietnamese Inter-Faith Council in USA, and Engineer Do Nhu Dien, Director of Dap Loi Song Nui Radio.
Established in 2002, the Vietnam Human Rights Award has been bestowed to the
individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to and
have demonstrated influence on the promotion of justice and human rights
movements in Vietnam. It is also an opportunity for Vietnamese in the Diaspora
to show their solidarity with those who have engaged in the relentless fighting
for Vietnamese people’s basic rights.
This year's Vietnam Human Rights Award was presented to: prisoner of conscience Nguyen Nang Tinh, prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Hoa, and the Vietnam Independent Journalist Association. The following are the brief highlights of the 2020 Vietnam Human Rights Award winners:
NGUYỄN NĂNG TĨNH
Mr. Nguyen Nang Tinh was born in 1976 in Quynh Hung Commune, Quynh Luu District, Nghe An Province. After graduating from Hue Academy of Music, Tinh worked as a music teacher at Nghe An province's College of Culture and Art since 2004.
As a teacher, he dedicated himself to hand over to the youths not only musical skills, but also love for their fatherland, the spirit of transcendence, and respect for human dignity.
Although busy with teaching, Nguyen Nang Tinh has devoted himself to several social activities and fighting for justice and human rights.
He was one of the main pillars of the candlelight vigils for Justice and Peace, and prisoners of conscience in the Vinh Diocese. He played a leading role in mobilizing people to take to the streets to protest against the Formosa disaster, China's invasion of the islands, and the Special Economic Zone Law.
Teacher Nguyen Nang Tinh is the companion of nearly 30 families of prisoners of conscience in the Vinh Diocese, most of whom are his close and like-minded friends. There was no family of prisoners of conscience in the area that did not receive Mr. Tinh’s support. He was always present in time to reassure and help those families overcome troubled circumstances, panic, anxiety, and fear as soon as one of their loved ones was arrested.
Mr. Tinh is a friend of the poor and marginalized. He joined the Life Protection Group, Human Development Fund, and the Catholic Communications in the Vinh Diocese.
by reason of Tinh’s praiseworthy activities, the Communist security apparatus has harassed and hampered him no less than 100 times by inviting him to “work” with the authorities, or going to his school to investigate and intimidate him. The harassments also included house watch, cutting off of electricity and water, detention, and beatings...
Finally, on May 29, 2019, teacher Nguyen Nang Tinh was kidnapped by the Vietnamese police while traveling with his two young children. On November 5, 2019, the People's Court of Nghe An Province sentenced him to 11 years in prison and 5 years of house arrest for “violating the people's administration and socialist regime for the purpose of opposing the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, defaming the Party and State leaders, inciting protests against the government, posting documents with fabricated contents, causing confusion among people, and providing fabricated information to cause conflicts between the people and public agencies ...”
In spite of serious threats and mistreatments during his imprisonment, teacher Nguyen Nang Tinh boldly declared in front of the Vietnamese communist court:
“I aspire for a free and democratic country. I worry about my country and my people’s destiny. I worry about the contaminated living environment. I cannot be indifferent and resign myself to the risk of losing the national sovereignty, and the threat of Chinese invasion …
“No matter how high the sentence is, be it 10 years, 20 years, even the death penalty, I won't change my mind.”
Several foreign governments, including the United States, Canada, Norway, and Czechoslovakia..., and human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI), and Reporter Without Borders (RSF) have expressed concerns about teacher Tinh’s arrest. Currently, the Media Legal Defense Initiative (MLDI) lawyers are representing Mr. Tinh's family to file with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitration Investigation (UNWGAD).
Teacher Nguyen Nang Tinh is an example of relentless pursuit of non-violent fighting for justice, human rights, and national self-determination. He deserves to be endowed with the 2020 Vietnam Human Rights Award.
NGUYEN VAN HOA
Nguyen Van Hoa was born in 1995 in Ky Anh district, Ha Tinh province.
As an enthusiastic youth, committed to the community, Nguyen Van Hoa has taught himself in the field of information technology with the desire to contribute to building a developed and democratic Vietnam. During the environmental disaster caused by Formosa steel plant in some Central provinces in 2016, Hoa reached out to the sites to record the environmental crimes and the sufferance of the victims. He also assisted the victims in gathering evidence to denounce the crimes and to bring the cases before the court.
In addition to that, Hoa used the modern media to further spread the news of the Formosa spill disaster to the outside world. He was the first person to use a flycam to capture tens of thousands people protesting in front of Formosa steel plant in October 2016. Nguyen Van Hoa is a citizen journalist working with RFA's Vietnamese Service, and has provided videos about people’s protests against the Formosa company in the central region of Vietnam.
Vietnamese police arrested Hoa when he was recording people's protests before the Ky Anh district court on January 11, 2017. On November 27, 2017, after a brief and sneaky trial without the participation of lawyers and the presence of relatives, the Ha Tinh Court sentenced Nguyen Van Hoa to 7 years in prison and 3 years of probation on charges of “conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”
Nguyen Van Hoa was repeatedly beaten and held in solitary confinement by prison guards at An Diem Detention Center in Quang Nam Province, so he went on several hunger strikes to protest. Prison guards also used corporal punishment to compel Hoa and another prisoner of conscience, Nguyen Viet Dung, to testify against environmental activist Le Dinh Luong. However, at the trial of Mr. Luong, both Mr. Hoa and Dung, recanted and, therefore, were assaulted by the prison guards for revenge.
In the face of the unjust trial and the brutal suppression of freelance journalist Nguyen Van Hoa, many Vietnamese and international organizations have spoken out; especially:
- On December 14, 2017, the European National Assembly passed an urgent resolution requiring the Vietnamese communist to release young activist Nguyen Van Hoa and other imprisoned Vietnamese citizens for voicing their own point of view.
- On August 20, 2018, the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) condemned the abuse of film journalist Nguyen Van Hoa, and urged Vietnamese authorities to stop the beating. and harassing journalists in prison.
- On January 18, 2019, Freedom Now announced the nomination of journalist Nguyen Van Hoa for UNESCO's Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award.
- On May 24, 2019, Amnesty International called the case of Nguyen Van Hoa being beaten by police at An Diem detention center, causing injury and then being put in solitary confinement as “extremely serious.”
- On August 15, 2019, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) called on the Vietnamese communist authorities to release journalist Nguyen Van Hoa.
- On September 24, 2019, US Congressman Alan Lowenthal officially adopted journalist Nguyen Van Hoa as a prisoner of conscience through the Defending Freedoms Project of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
The Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam
The Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) is a civil society organization established in Saigon on July 4, 2014 with the mission of fighting for freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It has not been legally recognized by Vietnamese government.
IJAVN's official organ is the online Vietnam Times newspaper, at https://vietnamthoibao.org/. The newspaper is the medium for its members to express their views, to voice their opinions on social injustice, to denounce the authorities’ wrongdoings and human rights violations, and to convey news relevant to the government repression of human rights activists.
Since its foundation, IJAVN has achieved several remarkable activities, including:
- Organizing and attending discussion seminars on important societal and national issues;
- Raising timely alerts about incidents of harassment against people and journalists;
- Networking and cooperating with mass media domestic and international non-government organizations;
- Making statements to support movements for freedom of speech, freedom of politics, environmental protection, and national heritage;
- Three members of IJAVN, including Bui Minh Quoc in Da Lat, Nguyen Tuong Thuy in Hanoi, and Nguyen Van Thanh in Da Nang, independently ran for the 2016 National Assembly;
- Continuing to maintain the operation of the Vietnam Times newspaper.
Because of the activities that the Vietnamese communist authorities deem dangerous to the regime, IJAVN has faced severe acts of repression. In particular, several active members have been imprisoned, including:
- Blogger Truong Duy Nhat, sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of “abusing his position and power while on duty.”
- Dr. Pham Chi Dung, the IJAVN’s founding member and president, arrested on November 29, 2019.
- Journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy, the IJAVN’s vice president, arrested on May 24, 2020.
- Journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan, arrested on June 12, 2020.
On November 10, 2020, the Vietnamese communist government prosecuted Dr. Pham Chi Dung, journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy, and journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan on charges of “ making, Storing, spreading information, materials, items for the purpose of opposing the State of Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Clause 2, Article 117 of the Penal Code. With these allegations, all of them could face sentences of 10 to 20 years in prison.
Furthermore, at least ten other members of the IJAVN were summoned and interrogated; its website and Facebook page were frequently locked down, and attacked by hackers. Many posts have been removed by Facebook.
Although having been in service during short period, the IJAVN has built a respectable reputation at home and abroad through sound and impressive critical voices. In particular, the leaders of IJAVN have reacted very bravely and intelligently when they were arrested and confronted by the police and other government officials.
Three members of IJAVN, President Pham Chi Dung, Vice President Le Ngoc Thanh, and blogger Truong Duy Nhat, were named “Information Heroes” by Reporters without Borders in 2014.
For its valuable
contributions to the fight for human rights, especially the right to freedom of
speech, as well as the hardships its members have gone through, IJAVN deserves
the Vietnam Human Rights Award for the Year 2020.