VNHRN presented the 2011 Vietnam Human Rights Award in Melbourne, Australia



Vietnam Human Rights Network



The Vietnam Human Rights Network (VHRN) solemnly held its 2011 Vietnam Human Rights Award presentation ceremony for Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu and Miss Do Thi Minh Hanh, conjointly with the commemoration of the 63rd anniversary of the International Human Rights Day, at the Kensington Community Recreation Centre in Melbourne, Australia.


The event took place in coordination with the Archive of Vietnamese Boat People, the Vietnamese Television in Australia, the Australian Alliance to Combat Trafficking, the Overseas Radio Station, the Prisoners of Conscience Fund, and the 8406 Bloc in Melbourne. It was attended by about 200 Vietnamese and group representatives from local areas and the vicinities.


Following the opening ceremonies, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Mr. Doan Viet Trung, briefly introduced the VHRN activities that included the annual Vietnam Human Rights Award. The Award was established in 2002 to honor individuals or groups that have achieved outstanding works in the field of human rights in Vietnam. So far, twenty four human rights activists and one group have received the Award.


Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung, Chairman of the VHRN Coordinating Committee, arriving from the United States, followed suit with his presentation of the significance of the 63rd anniversary of the International Human Rights Day in contrast to the worsening violations of human rights in Vietnam, and his calls on Vietnamese communities everywhere to support the miserable fighting sustained by human rights activists in Vietnam.


The awarding ceremony began with the reading of the biographies and achievements of the two winners for the 2011 Vietnam Human Rights Award.


First, Dr. Dinh Quoc Quan, in his commendation for Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, has illustrated him as an active defender of civil and political rights. Dr Vu has been known for his courage to file lawsuits against Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for his controversial Chinese-built bauxite mining project in the Central Highlands, and against police general Vu Hai Trieu for destroying 300 dissidents’ internet websites. He also filed a lawsuit demanding to abolish Article 4 of the Vietnamese Constitution which gives the Communist Party a monopoly on power. Moreover, he was actively involved in many legal human rights suits in the civilian and religious fields,  frequently posted critical commentaries and articles an the web, and gave interviews with foreign media about freedom, democracy, and human rights in Vietnam. His peaceful activities have consequently led him to a sentence of 7 years in prison, plus 3 years under house arrest.


Next, Lawyer Doan Thanh Liem, Vice Chairman of the VHRN Coordinating Committee, also arriving from the United States, presented the commendation plaque to Lawyer Cao Duc Huy, representing Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu in absentia. The plaque reads “Dr. Vu has involved himself in defending human rights and justice, and bravely expressed his views on freedom and democracy for the whole Vietnamese people.”


Miss Thien Thu of the Overseas Radio deeply moved the whole audience with her account of the miseries and sacrifices Miss Do Thi Minh Hanh had undergone during her struggle for her compatriots’ labor rights. She said that Miss Hanh began to assist Victims of Injustice by writing petitions to reclaim their unjustly confiscated lands when she was 18. Hanh joined the movement of assistance for workers, coming to factories to learn about the situation and guiding workers in fighting against their bosses. Together with her two comrades, she advocated and helped organize strikes for better treatment at a number of factories. She was arrested on 2/23/2010 in Di Linh; and in her prison, she kept firmly and proudly resisting the police torturous measures against her through their continuous interrogations. Young and educated, yet, unlike her peer group members, she quit her good job to devote her time and energy as an activist for “Vietnamese Labor Movement”. At the court hearing, she rejected all accusations from the prosecutor and the judge, and pled not guilty for all charges.  She was sentenced to 7 years in prison.


Miss Uyen Di received the Vietnam Human Rights Award for Miss Do Thi Minh Hanh, on her behalf, from Dr. Nguyen Ba Tung, who praised “her disregard of all risks and imprisonment and her perseverance in fighting for the labor rights against social injustice and tyranny.”


The award presentation was followed by speeches made by Mr. Nguyen The Phong, President of The Vietnamese Community in Australia; Mr. Nguyen Van Bon, President of The Vietnamese Community in Victoria; and other participants, many of whom, especially, had not only expressed their oral agreement and support for the Vietnam Human Rights Award but also volunteered to make significant monetary contributions right on the spot.


The ceremony, the first one held outside the United States where the VHRN headquarter is located, came to its end at 16:00 p.m. the same day in a sentimental preoccupation for human rights activists in Vietnam and a determination to fight for a peaceful and compassionate Vietnam.



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