VNHRN Announced 2014 Vietnam Human Rights Award Winners
The Vietnam Redemptorist Province, human rights activist Nguyễn Bắc Truyển, and two musicians Vő Minh Trí (aka Việt Khang) and Trần Vũ Anh Běnh were selected from 22 nominations from Vietnam and abroad.
Little Saigon (11-07-2014) - At a press conference in Little Saigon today, Vietnam Human Rights Network (VNHRN) announced that the 2014 Vietnam Human Rights Award is to be awarded to The Vietnam Redemptorist Province, human rights activist Nguyễn Bắc Truyển, and two musicians Trần Vũ Anh Běnh and Vő Minh Trí (aka Việt Khang). Those winners were selected from a list of 22 nominations received from Vietnam and abroad.
The Vietnam Human Rights Award was founded in 2002 with the purpose of giving recognition to outstanding works in the defense of human rights in Vietnam. It is also an opportunity to show solidarity with and support for those involved in the relentless struggle for basic rights and justice for the people of Vietnam. Since 2002, the award has been bestowed annually to a constellation of distinguished human right activists in Vietnam.
This year, the awarding ceremony will take place in San Jose, California, USA on the 66th Anniversary of the International Human Rights Day. The event is being organized by VNHRN in collaboration with several Vietnamese local grass root groups.
Today's press conference especially welcomed former prisoner of conscience Nguyễn Văn Hải (aka Điếu Cŕy) who just came to The US from a Vietnamese prison. He was named as one of the recipients of 2008 Vietnam Human Rights Award while he was still imprisoned in communist jails. On this occasion, Dr. Nguyễn Bá Tůng, Head of the VNHRN Coordinating Committee presented to Mr. Nguyễn Văn Hải the award plaque that his representative had received for him in 2008.
The following are brief biographies of the 2014 Vietnam Human Rights Award winners:
The Vietnam Redemptorist Province (VRP)
As a Catholic religious order, the VRP is a large organization with nearly 600 priests and seminarians. With 22 missionary establishments nationwide, the VRP operates throughout Vietnam; from North to South, from the plains to the mountains, and to remote and less well-known areas. With its commitment to bringing traditional religious ideals into all everyday activities, and particularly its emphasis on the socially marginalized people and the violations and unjust deprivation of human rights, the VRP has engaged for many years in diverse activities fighting for “Justice and Peace,” democracy, and human rights for Vietnam. In addition to advocating for religious freedom, for the protection of life, combating human trafficking, defending victims of injustice, and helping poor ethnic minorities and former Army of the Republic of Vietnam disabled veterans, the VRP has also taken initiatives in independent/underground communications training and organizing seminars on human rights and democracy. The VRP’s communications division disseminates much literature and broadcasts that are rich and diverse in content, including special programs on human rights.
More importantly, the VRP is a vibrant civil society organization capable of linking efforts to protect and promote human dignity and fundamental human rights. It has provided various human rights activists with the opportunity to come together to share common concerns about the country, and cherish the dreams of a Vietnam where freedom flourishes and where human rights are respected.
Human rights activist Nguyễn Bắc Truyển
Even with his educational background in economics and law, and although he made a living as a businessman and in his capacity as an enterprise director, Mr. Nguyễn Bắc Truyển has been particularly interested in issues of social justice. He has devoted his time to guide and help victims of appropriated lands write and submit petitions, and does not hesitate to openly challenge the tyrannical regime and promote movements fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights for Vietnam. He writes in newspapers and electronic media denouncing the corruption of the ruling regime and expressing the people’s tribulations. In 2006, he was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison plus two years of probation on charges of “propaganda against the State.”
Since his release from prison, and though still on probation, he has resumed the struggle for freedom, and joined the People's Democratic Party and the Fellowship Association of Political and Religious Prisoners. He continues to provide legal advice for families whose relatives were arrested for participating in political activities in Vietnam. He fundraised for former political prisoners and their families. Due to this, he has been continuously watched by the police, and was assaulted numerous times. When asked about his feelings towards brutal acts of repression, his response was that since there was no means of self-defense, he had to live with it, but would not let it deter him from his activism.
Musicians Trần Vũ Anh Běnh and Vő Minh Trí (aka Việt Khang)
Musician Trần Vũ Anh Běnh, pen name Hoŕng Nhật thông, and musician Vő Minh Trí, aka Việt Khang, are symbols of the young generation’s maturity and commitment. The two are tied together by their love for the country, frustration towards repression, human rights violations, and conspiracy to sell national territories by the Vietnamese Communist rulers. They shared many common undertakings, specially composing music that touches the hearts of many people, especially the youth. They also participated in patriotic activities demanding democracy, human rights, and territorial integrity for the country.
Their compositions, especially the two masterpieces “Who are you?” and “Where is my Vietnam?” by Việt Khang, have become the driving force that helps Vietnamese youths overcome fear and stand up for the struggle demanding justice, democracy, human rights, and territorial integrity for Vietnam. Because of these songs, Mr. Trần Vũ Anh Běnh was sentenced to a 6-year prison term and two years of probation, and Mr. Vő Minh Trí was sentenced to four years in prison and two years of probation by the court on October 30, 2012.
In addition to writing songs, Trần Vũ Anh Běnh, along with a number of young students, also founded the Patriotic Youth group in April 2011, and created the Patriotic Youth website allowing young Vietnamese to exchange and disseminate ideas of democracy, human rights, and civil rights, and discuss other social problems, especially the invasion by their neighbor from the North.
Việt Khang and Trần Vũ Anh Běnh also symbolize the freedom of composition and expression. Their influence has had a profound impact on the public and has aroused patriotism and awareness of other basic liberties. The fact that the Communist government had to mobilize hundreds of policemen and public security personnel to prevent people from attending the trials of Việt Khang and Trần Vũ Anh Běnh proved that the tyrants were fearful of the combined power of music and the people’s patriotism and determination to fight for freedom and human rights.
Vietnam Human Rights Network