Tuesday, November 04, 2008



14550 Magnolia St., Suite 203, Westminster, CA 92683

Tel.: (858) 837-2152; Fax: (619) 291-3807

E: vnhrnet@vietnamhumanrights.net; Web: www.vietnamhumanrights.net


October 29, 2008


Little Saigon - California – Today, October 29, 2008, the Vietnam Human Rights Network (VNHRN) released the lists of persons and organizations in Vietnam selected to receive the Vietnam Human Rights Award 2008.

The list includes two individuals and one organization, Venerable Thich Thien Minh, independent journalist Nguyen Van Hai - known under the pen names of Hoang Hai and Dieu Cay - and Freedom of Press Magazine. These award recipients have been selected from a list of 10 candidates, nominated by 12 individuals and organizations in Vietnam and around the world.

The Vietnam Human Rights Award was founded in 2002 with the purpose of providing recognition and support to the works of outstanding human rights activists who have made significant contributions to the cause of human rights and civil rights of the Vietnamese people. It is also an opportunity for the Vietnamese people around the world to demonstrate their solidarity with and support for those involved in this relentless fighting for basic rights and justice.

Since its establishment the Vietnam Human Rights Award has been presented to a number of human rights activists in Vietnam, including Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, Father Nguyen Van Ly (2002; Mr. Nguyen Vu Binh, Mr. Le Chi Quang, Doctor Pham Hong Son, Mr. Nguyen Khac Toan (2003); Mr. Pham Que Duong, Doctor Nguyen Dan Que (2004); Rev. Le Quang Liem, Father Phan Van Loi, Venerable Thich Tue Sy (2005); Mr. Do Nam Hai, Mr. Nguyen Chinh Ket (2006); Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh, Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and Lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan (2007).

The 2008 Award Presentation Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the proclamation of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Westminster City Hall, California, on December 14, 2008 at 2:00 PM.

The Vietnam Human Rights Award includes a recognition plaque and a cash prize of 6,000 US dollars. VNHRN welcomes financial support from groups or individuals to maintain and strengthen this meaningful endeavor.

Following are brief summaries of the award recipients' accomplishments:

The Venerable Thich Thien Minh

Born in 1955 in Bac Lieu with secular name Huynh Van Ba, Venerable Thich Thien Minh became a monk in 1972 at the pagoda Long Phuoc, in Bac Lieu province. After taking power in 1975, The Communist government has dictated a policy of religion and human right repression. Thich Thien Minh, led by his conviction in basic rights and freedom, began his non-violent resistance to the government’s oppression. He was arrested on March 28, 1979, tried by the people’s court for plotting to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life in prison. In 1986, in the prison camp Xuan Phuoc, he was savagely tortured. Worthy of note is that the Communists opened another trial in the camp, and gave him another life sentence. In 2004 Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, the U.N. Special Rapporter on Religious Intolerance visited Venerable Thich Thien Minh in the prison camp; and in a press conference later, he acknowledged Thich Thien Minh as “the prisoner of conscience of Vietnam”. Under international pressure, the Communists had to release him on 2005 Vietnam’s Tet holiday. Although having spent 26 years in prison, Thich Thien Minh refuses to be intimidated and continues his relentless fight for the release of all political and religious prisoners in Vietnam. In October 2006, Venerable Thich Thien Minh, along with other former political and religious prisoners, founded the Vietnamese Political and Religious Prisoners Friendship Association in Vietnam whose goal is to advocate for the legitimate rights of former prisoners, as well as the freedom and basic rights of 85 million people in the country.

Independent journalist Nguyen Van Hai

Usually known under his pen names of Hoang Hai and Dieu Cay, Mr. Nguyen Van Hai was born in 1953 in the city of Hai Phong. He has been the most courageous writer working on Internet blogs in Vietnam. He founded the Independent Press Club, a group of reporters dedicated to covering the factual aspects of Vietnamese social reality and the collective psyche and aspiration of the Vietnamese people. They join together in fight against the repressive and exploitive land policy and real estate nationalization of the Communist government. He created two web sites: the first one, “The People’s Press”, featuring reportages and articles by journalists of the Independent Press Club; the second one, called “The Peasant’s Pipe” featuring personal reflections on social plagues of Vietnamese society. In addition, he participated in the mobile manifestations against the invasion of Spratly Islands (Truong Sa) and Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa) by Red China at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008. Subsequent to the demonstrations, the repressive police machine systematically harassed him by forcing him to report to police stations whenever required with the intention to intimidate him into giving up all his social endeavors and struggles for human rights. He was arrested on April 19, 2008, and tried on the fabricated charge of “tax evasion”. He was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison and incarcerated on September 19, 2008. Several international human rights organizations, along with the Vietnam Human Rights Network, have voiced their protests, and demanded his release.

Freedom of Speech Magazine (Ban Nguyet San Tu Do Ngon Luan)

Freedom of Speech Magazine Is a collective effort of several members of Bloc 8406 with Fr. Chan Tin as the Editor-in-Chief. The editors board, among other contributors, includes Fr. Nguyen Van Ly, Fr. Phan Van Loi, lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, and journalist Nguyen Khac Toan…

Freedom of Speech Magazine is a breaking point in the long attempt by the Bloc 8406 activists to fight for freedom of speech and information for the Vietnamese people. Through 61 issues, with specific goals (non-violent fight for basic rights, unmasking Ho Chi Minh and his followers, and abolishing the totalitarian communist regime) and covering diverse contents and topics (legal, religious, political, and social), the 32 A4 format page bi-weekly magazine represents a true testament to the determination, perseverance and sacrifice of those who continue to fight for freedom of speech, which is the most effective means to assist in building democracy and human rights in Vietnam.

Currently, Freedom of Speech Magazine’s founder, Fr. Nguyen Van Ly, and an editor staff, Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, are both in jail. The acting representative, Fr. Phan Van Loi, is currently under tight watch, libeled, and harassed by security agents. Others cooperators and readers throughout Vietnam also continue to face constant interrogations, intimidation and physical attacks because of their involvement with the magazine. Those coordinated efforts by the government aim to destroy Freedom of Speech Magazine, a source of genuine information and an open forum discussion on the most urgent issues of the country. In spite of those difficulties, the editorial staff is determined to keep the Magazine going.

Contact: Nguyen Thanh Trang

Tel: (858) 484-1428


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