Celebration of the 68th International Human Rights Day and the 2016 Vietnam Human Rights Award Ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

 

(Boston - Dec 11, 2016) Since 2002, the Vietnam Human Rights Network has continuously presented its Vietnam Human Rights Awards in various locations around the world concurrently with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day.  This year, its 15th award ceremony was solemnly held in the St. Gregory Parish Auditorium in the City of Dorchester of Massachusetts in the afternoon of December 11, 2016, also the 68th International Human Rights Day. The event was organized by Vietnam Human Rights Network in collaboration with the Vietnamese-American Community of Massachusetts and the Movement of Vietnamese Laity in the Diaspora - Boston Chapter.  

    
Participants in the ceremony included more than 200 representatives of Vietnamese community groups in Massachusetts and from neighboring states, including New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, some Vietnamese activists from Canada, the delegation of the Federation of Vietnamese American Communities of the USA, and the delegation of the United Council Of Vietnamese In Homeland And Overseas. Also joined the ceremony were a number of government officials, including Mr. Nam Pham, Assistant Secretary of Business Development & International Trade, representing the Governor of Massachusetts; Representative Keiko Orrall; and Mr. Michael Moynihan, representing Senator Mark Montigny.    


Following the opening ceremony, the Chairman of the Vietnamese-American Community of Massachusetts, Mr. Than Vinh Bao Toan, started the event with his welcoming address in which he emphasized the collective duty of overseas Vietnamese in general, and the Vietnamese Community in Massachusetts in particular, in supporting the fight for freedom-democracy-human rights by their compatriots in Vietnam. He also expressed his pride in collaborating with the Vietnam Human Rights Network in holding the 2016 Vietnam Human Rights Award ceremony.  


Next was the speech by Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung, Chairman of the Vietnam Human Rights Network, about the significance of the 68th International Human Rights Day at a time when violations of basic human rights in Vietnam are getting awfully worsened. “After nearly 75 years in North Vietnam and over 40 years in South Vietnam,” he said, “the fight for human rights becomes more urgent and more imperative than ever. Today’s gathering is, therefore, an opportunity for us to look toward to our homeland where our compatriots, especially human rights activists, are struggling very hard day and night to regain human rights, typically the recipients of this year’s Vietnam Human Rights Award: Vietnamese Blogger Network, Lawyer Vo An Don, and two activists for victims of injustice Tran Ngoc Anh and Can Thi Theu.” 

       
The event reached its climax with the commendation and award presentation. In both Vietnamese and English, members of the organizing committee read the award recipients’ achievements in human rights activism and their endured hardships. As in previous years, all recipients were absent and only their representatives received the medals on their behalf. Community activist Do Ky Anh from Toronto, Canada, received the Award for the Vietnamese Blogger Network from Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung; poet Tran Trung Dao represented Lawyer Vo An Don to receive the award from Prof. Nguyen Thanh Trang, a Vietnam Human Rights Network advisor; community activist Lac Viet from Vancouver, Canada represented Mrs. Tran Ngoc Anh to receive the award from Mr. Than Vinh Bao Toan, Chairman of the Vietnamese-American Community of Massachusetts; and free journalist Dieu Cay Nguyen Van Hai represented Mrs. Can Thi Theu to receive the award from Mr. Nguyen Duy Quang, Head of the Movement of Vietnamese Laity in the Diaspora - Boston Chapter.   

      
After each commendation, the audience was shown a video clip of the recipient or their representative sharing their impression. Then came the recognition by Assistant Secretary Nam Pham on behalf of Governor Charlie Baker, handing the state’s Recognition Certificates to the representatives of the Vietnam Human Rights 2016 Award recipients and the Vietnam Human Rights Network. Representative Keiko Orrall, also on behalf of the Massachusetts Congress, delivered his commendations to the Vietnamese-American Community of Massachusetts for its public service accomplishments. 


A number of selected guests were invited to speak to the audience, including Assistant Secretary Nam Pham, commentator Tran Trung Dao, blogger Dieu Cay, and Dr. Do Van Hoi, Chairman of the Federation of Vietnamese American Communities of the USA.


The audience was entertained by inspiring activist songs performed by volunteer singers.


Finally, Mr. Lai Tu My, on behalf of the Organizing Committee, concluded the ceremony and expressed his gratitude to the government officers, representatives of various groups, and Vietnamese compatriots for their contribution to the success of the event. 


Many local dignitaries expressed their pleasure for the success of the Vietnam Human Rights Network Award ceremony taking place for the first time in Massachusetts. Some expressed concern for two recipients, the recently arrested blogger “Me Nam” Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a leading figure of the Vietnamese Blogger Network, and the activist for land expropriation victims Can Thi Theu, whose sentence of 20 months in prison was restated by the Hanoi appellate court. Yet, they felt relieved to learn that more people in Vietnam are and will be bravely getting involved in the struggle for human dignity and justice, against dictatorship and unfairness.  


Everyone believed in a bright future for the Vietnamese people.
 

 

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