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Vietnam Human Rights Network Announces Vietnam Human Rights Award Winners for 2004




California, 11.14.2004

 The Vietnam Human Rights Network (VNHRN) has presented the 2004 Vietnam Human Rights Award to Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and Mr. Pham Que Duong in recognition of their brave and persistent fight for human rights in Vietnam. At a press conference at its new office in Little Saigon, California today, the VNHRN Coordinating Committee announced that the award ceremony will take place at 2 PM on December 12, 2004 at Santa Ana Community College, Santa Ana, California on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.

 Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, 62, has been a tireless fighter for human rights and democracy for nearly 20 years.   In 1978, he and 47 members of his National Progressive Front, a non-violent political organization, were arrested and jailed without charge or a trial. He was released in 1988.  In 1990, he founded the High Tide Humanist Movement and in its manifesto, the organization called for respect for human rights, political plurality, and free elections.  Dr Que was immediately arrested and sentenced to 20 years' hard labor, plus 5 years under house arrest for “plotting to overthrow the regime”. Under international pressure, the Vietnamese authorities released him in September 1998 on condition that he leave Vietnam, which he categorically refused to do.  On May 11, 1999, he issued a statement calling for democratization. In March 2003, he was arrested again, and on July 29, 2004, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for “abusing democratic rights to jeopardize the interests of the state". Dr. Que was transferred to a remote prison in Thanh Hoa province, North Vietnam last September, making it much harder for his family to visit him. 

 Mr. Pham Que Duong, 71, is a former Vietnamese Communist Party member and North Vietnamese army colonel and former editor of the Military History Review of the Military History Institute. In January 1999, he handed back his party membership card in protest against what he called Hanoi leadership’s improper reaction to general Tran Do’s call for a clean government. The police followed him, tried to isolate him, and arrested him several times. He continued to criticize the government's cover-up and totalitarian policies, to call for true democracy, and to defend imprisoned or mistreated human rights activists. He was arrested on December 28, 2002 in Saigon where he had gone to visit democracy and human rights activists. He was detained until July 2004, given an unfair trial and sentenced to 19 months in prison for “abusing democratic rights to jeopardize the interests of the state" and “failing to comply with the government's house arrest order".  Since he had been held without trial for a period exceeding his sentence, he was released and placed under house arrest.

 The Human Rights Award was founded by VNHRN in 2002 and is awarded annually in recognition of sacrifices made for human rights in Vietnam. The most Venerable Thich Quang Do and Father Nguyen Van Ly, two outstanding non-violent activists for religious freedom, were the first prize recipients. In 2003, the Award went to four young human rights activists: Dr. Pham Hong Son, Lawyer Le Chi Quang, journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, and former soldier Nguyen Khac Toan. All of them, except Le Chi Quang, are still detained and in poor health.  

 In addition to recognizing those who have sacrificed everything, including their own lives, for human rights, the Vietnam Human Rights Award also aims at expressing solidarity with Vietnamese all around the world who are actively fighting for human dignity and human rights.



For further information:

Tung Nguyen, DPA 

Phone: (714) 636-8895



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