Vietnam Human Rights Network celebrates the 73rd International Human Rights Day and the 20th Vietnam Human Rights Award Ceremony
Dec. 12, 2021
Little Saigon – California, USA. Since 2002, the Vietnam Human Rights Network has continuously presented its Vietnam Human Rights Awards in various locations worldwide concurrently with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day. This year, the 20th Vietnam Human Rights Award Ceremony was solemnly held at the Community Center of Westminster, California, on the afternoon of December 12, 2021, on the 73rd International Human Rights Day.
Although the Covid-19 epidemic situation still prevented large gatherings, the number of attendees also filled the spacious hall. In addition to the Network members in the region, several religious leaders, Vietnamese-language media agencies, representatives of political and community organizations, and compatriots were also there.
Also joining the ceremony were some government officials: Congresswoman Michelle Steel (R-CA-48), Mayor of Westminster City Ta Duc Tri, Mayor of Stanton City David J. Shawver, and many other Vietnamese-American elected officials from cities in Orange County.
After the opening ceremony, the program began with a welcome speech by the Head of the Executive Board of the Vietnam Human Rights Network, Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung. He brought up the meaning of the 73rd Human Rights Day theme of the UN, “Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights,” and criticized the inequality and discriminatory policies of the Vietnamese communist government. He said, “That discrimination and unequal treatment policy has pushed most people into the bottom line of misery. And they stood up for justice and equality, even though subjected to brutal oppression and imprisonment. Those are the cases of the plain and ordinary people we honor today.”
The event reached its climax with the commendation and award presentation. First, in both Vietnamese and English, members of the organizing committee took turns reading the award recipients’ achievements in human rights activism and their enduring hardships.
As with previous awards, none of the winners were present to receive the awards, so the award plaques were handed out to their representatives.
Musician Viet Khang, a winner of the 2014 Vietnam Human Rights Award, received the award for Mrs. Can Thi Theu’s family. On this occasion, musician Viet Khang also received the honor he did not receive in 2014 when he was still in a communist prison. Prof. Nguyen Thanh Giau, General Secretary of the Vietnamese Interfaith Council in the US, received the award for Ms. Dinh Thi Thu Thuy at the request of her family. Ms. Le Thi Kim Thu, a person who used to fight for land petitioners with Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, accepted the award on his behalf.
After each commendation, the whole hall was excited to see with their own eyes and hear the sincere voices of the relatives of the laureates recorded from Vietnam and projected on the big screen. They include Mr. Dinh Ba Khiem, the husband of Mrs. Theu, Mr. Dinh Van Minh, the father of Ms. Thuy, and Ms. Bui Thi Re, the wife of Mr. Tuc.
Some distinguished guests were invited to speak, including Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48), Westminster City Mayor Ta Duc Tri, and General Secretary of Vietnamese Interfaith Council in the US, Prof. Nguyen Thanh Giau.
Many attendants have expressed their excitement that the Vietnam Human Rights Award Ceremony can be organized in a public venue even though the Covid-19 epidemic has not entirely ended. However, such enthusiasm did not overshadow the concerns about the Vietnamese Communists’ increased repression and persecution of those who dared to speak out peacefully for territorial integrity, social justice, and fundamental human rights. They exchanged the news of upcoming trials of Trinh Ba Phuong, Nguyen Thi Tam, Pham Doan Trang, and Do Nam Trung, as well as the recapture of Huynh Thuc Vy during her suspended sentence.
VNHRA was founded in 2002 to recognize the individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the peaceful promotion of human rights in Vietnam. It is also an opportunity for Vietnamese in the Diaspora to show their solidarity with those engaged in the relentless fighting for Vietnamese people’s fundamental rights. Since its establishment, the VNHRA has been presented to 54 individuals and five organizations in Vietnam.