VOICE Executive Director Search

VOICE

Executive Director Search

Application Deadline: Midnight, Monday, December 31, 2018 (US Pacific Standard Time)

Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment (VOICE) is seeking a dedicated Executive Director to lead our dynamic and growing US-based international organization.

VOICE is a U.S. 501(c)(3) formally established in 2007, with grassroots activities spanning the previous decade. VOICE’s mission is to advocate for Vietnamese refugees’ rights, and work as a catalyst for concrete and sustainable civil society development in Vietnam. To that extent, VOICE invests its resources in advocacy, capacity building training programs, and on-the-ground projects, through four key focus areas: freedom of expression, access to justice, environmental protection, and religious freedom.

VOICE is a leading civil society organization with a unique and effective long-term approach to civil society development in Vietnam. In alignment with our strategy, our team leverages in-depth country knowledge to identify synergy between the Vietnamese overseas community, its international partners and local Vietnamese civil society leaders’ needs and objectives to deliver on VOICE’s focused capacity building training and grant making strategies.

VOICE’s efforts are assisted and enhanced by our independent affiliates, which share our mission. Our partnership comprises of the following organizations: VOICE Australia, VOICE Canada, VOICE Norway, VOICE U.K., and Voice EUROPE based in Brussels, Belgium.

For more information about VOICE, please visit www.vietnamvoice.org

POSITION SUMMARY & DESIRED TRAITS:

The Executive Director will be visionary and forward-thinking. The successful candidate must possess an awareness of critical needs and social and political issues Vietnam is facing; familiarity with VOICE operation in Southeast Asia; ability to identify and connect with other established nonprofits; knowledge of socio-political conditions at the community level; access to key stakeholders; and an understanding of the policy environments, particularly the U.S, and the EU.

The successful candidate will have strong operational experience and administrative acumen to make effective decisions regarding the future and growth of the organization. Ideally, the position will be based in the United States, with regular international travel; however, location is open to discussion.

The position reports to the Board of Directors. The Executive Director is responsible for operational and personnel management of VOICE international operations, with approximately 15 staff and 30 short-term and long-term interns and regular volunteers; fund development for and financial management of VOICE annual budget; long-range planning & strategic visioning.

POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES:


Leadership & Strategic Planning

  • Provide leadership and work with Board, staff, volunteers, and affiliates to implement VOICE refugee resettlement program; and develop and expand VOICE’s civil society initiatives in Vietnam and beyond;

  • Lead the development of local, regional and international strategies, and take action to ensure implementation.

  • Develop initiatives and collaborative partnerships that advance VOICE’s goals across its areas of strategic focus.

  • Assess progress toward goals, making strategy adjustments as necessary.

  • Represent VOICE’s strategy before stakeholders, cultivating leaders, and establishing additional VOICE affiliates.

  • Work closely with grantors and grantees to elevate VOICE’s profile among human rights defenders in Vietnam, civic leadership, and other key stakeholders.

Communication & Collaboration

  • Develop and maintain effective relationships with VOICE affiliates and colleagues around the world; ensure that they are aware of, support and participate in VOICE’s strategy and its implementation.

  • Develop and maintain a productive network of professional relationships with key government, philanthropic, non-profit and community leaders, including those at senior levels.

  • Improve awareness and visibility of VOICE’s activities and achievements internally and externally; represent VOICE at key conferences and meetings, and drive the development of VOICE’s projects for internal and external support.

  • Communicate VOICE’s strategy to multiple internal constituencies including its interns.

  • Work closely with media relations and other partners to maximize coverage of and participation in events and projects.

Financial Planning and Management

  • Work with the Board and staff to prepare annual organizational budget

  • Work with the Board to secure adequate funding for the operation of the organization

  • Provide the Board with comprehensive, regular financial reports

  • Monitor and provide oversight to ensure timely and accurate reporting to funders.

  • Oversee re-granting projects, including review of grant proposals for Board approval, ensuring adherence to project plan, reviewing impact reports, identifying challenges and troubleshooting as needed

  • Ensure that the organization complies with regulations and legal requirements as stipulated by US Internal Revenue Services’ 501(c)(3) codes.

Fund Development and Grant Management

  • Participate in fundraising activities and events as appropriate

  • Work closely with the Board, staff and VOICE affiliates to identify funding opportunities and leverage international grantor relationships.

  • Report impact to grantors, affiliates, partners and other stakeholder, and help distill insights and lessons learned from VOICE’s various programs in and outside of Vietnam.

Human Resources Planning and Management

  • Recruit, hire, and manage an international team of (5) Program Directors and (up to 10) support staff, working in multiple offices in the US and Asia.

  • Oversee the implementation of the human resources policies, procedures and practices including the development of job descriptions.

  • Prepare annual staff performance evaluations; and provide training, coaching and mentoring as necessary.

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree in a relevant field preferred

  • Minimum of 5-10 years of relevant work experience in policy/program development and implementation; demonstrated ability to think critically and strategically about program design and implementation

  • Experienced in organizational leadership and management, including strategic development, community engagement, budget and financial management, human resources and operations.

  • Familiarity, experience and commitment to advancing human rights

  • Passion for VOICE’s mission; deep knowledge of and experience related to civil society development

  • Experienced in grant-writing and grant-making and the non-profit sector; ability to fundraise and assess the leadership, track record, fiscal integrity and capacity of a nonprofit organization

  • Creative, flexible and collaborative with an ability to work in a multi-cultural and team-oriented environment, with commitment to equal opportunities and non-discrimination

  • Demonstrates a high degree of initiative; results-oriented, high level of attention to details and deadlines

  • Familiarity with international laws and policies, as well as Vietnamese laws relating to human rights

  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills in English; ability to represent VOICE in diverse forums and organizational relationships

  • Command of Vietnamese language a plus

  • Frequent travel, including internationally, is required

Salary: Competitive salary, negotiable based on qualifications, availability, ability to travel, country of employment and desired benefit package.

How to apply: email jobs@vietnamvoice.org, by deadline of midnight, December 31, 2018. with subject line: VOICE ED Search; One (1) PDF or Word Doc file/attachment, that includes all three (3) following items:

  1. Cover letter, one page

  2. Resume

  3. At least three (3) professional references, listing:

    • name

    • title

    • relationship to applicant

    • country of work or residence

    • email address

    • phone number

Additional references may be requested for short-listed candidates. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

PDF file: VOICE ED Announce

Notice of activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s release from prison

NOTICE OF ACTIVIST NGUYEN NGOC NHU QUYNH’S RELEASE FROM PRISON

This afternoon October 17, 2018; activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka “Mother Mushroom”) was granted freedom from the Vietnamese government after almost two years of imprisonment. Today she was reunited with her family and they are on their way to the United States.

She is a strenuous human rights defender and environmental activist. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was awarded many prizes, including “Defender of the Year” by Civil Rights Defenders in 2015, and “International Women of Courage Award” by the U.S. State Department two years later.

Unfortunately, it was Quynh’s activism that triggered the Vietnamese government to detain her since October 10, 2016. She was consequently sentenced to 10 years imprisonment under the charge of “conducting propaganda against the State.”
The fight for Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s freedom has been continuously campaigned for the past two years by the Vietnamese communities inside Vietnam and abroad. They were supported by international governments and human rights organizations around the world. This pressure has forced the Vietnamese government to grant Quynh her freedom after two years of imprisonment. This result has indirectly proven that the 10 year sentence handed down to Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was not only unlawful but also immoral.

We would like to acknowledge and show gratitude to all who have supported this campaign. Moreover, we strongly believe that not only Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, but all the prisoners of conscience detained in Vietnam deserve a life of freedom and dignity.

There is more to be done ahead. At present, VOICE is working towards building a strong and robust civil society in Vietnam. Our objectives are to demand the Vietnamese government to respect and adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to campaign for the release of all prisoners of conscience.

To achieve our common goals, we ask for your continuous support in this journey.

VOICE

VOICE in conjunction with other NGOs submitted contributions to the Universal Periodic Review

On July 12, 2018, VOICE in conjunction with CIVICUS, Human Rights Foundation, VOICE Vietnam, and the Civil Society Forum submitted contributions to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This report draws attention to the human rights violations occurring in Vietnam with particular focus on civil society, freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, and unwarranted restrictions on human rights defenders (HRDs) since its 2nd UPR examination in January 2014.

The report can be found here: UPR Submisson – Vietnam

The UPR is a unique process, which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council, which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists.

VOICE in conjunction with other NGOs submitted contributions to the Universal Periodic Review
VOICE in conjunction with other NGOs submitted contributions to the Universal Periodic Review

During the last UPR cycle, the Government of Vietnam received 37 recommendations relating to civic space. Of these recommendations, 29 were accepted and eight were noted. An evaluation of a range of legal sources and human rights documentation addressed in subsequent sections of this submission demonstrates that the Government of Vietnam has partially implemented six recommendations relating to civil society space and not implemented the remaining 31. The government has persistently failed to address unwarranted restrictions on civic space since its last UPR examination and acute implementation gaps were found with regard to the rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression and the protection of HRDs and bloggers.

The United Nations’ Human Rights Council is scheduled to review Vietnam’s human rights obligations on January 22, 2019.

More information about the UPR process can be found here:

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/BasicFacts.aspx

Joint statement on the kidnapping and detention of Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Quang A, and Bui Thi Minh Hang

The undersigned independent Vietnamese Civil Society Organizations strongly condemn the kidnapping and detention of three activists, Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Quang A, and Bui Thi Minh Hang by Vietnamese authorities on November 16, 2017.

The three activists were kidnapped right after their meeting with the European Union (EU) delegation in Hanoi. This meeting was held in preparation for the upcoming annual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. The EU initiated this meeting by inviting the activists to come and provide their inputs on civil society development in Vietnam. In February this year, a delegation from the European Union Parliament’ Sub-Committee on Human Rights held a similar meeting with Vietnamese civil society actors, including the said activists.

During their detention, the activists were held incommunicado, and legal assistance was not allowed.

The activists were subsequently released with activist Pham Doan Trang being the last one released at midnight. Her cellphone was seized without her consent and to date, they remain in the police’s possession.

We reiterate herein our strong condemnation of the above-described illegal conduct committed by the Vietnamese police and other involved agencies. Their action is in direct violation of Vietnamese laws and other international treaties on human rights which Vietnam is a signatory of and has ratified.

The government’s treatment of the activists, through the illegal detention and unlawful taking of their personal property, is a direct attack on independent civil society and its development in Vietnam. At the same time, these conducts show the government’s willingness to disregard the rule of law and their own laws in their attempt to suppress independent voices.

We regard these types of conduct as a direct and extremely dangerous threat to the development of not just civil society organizations, but of Vietnamese society at large.

The protection of an individual’s human rights is the protection of everyone’s rights. We call on our citizens, communities, civil society organizations, international organizations, and governments to join us in condemning these conducts. We respectfully request the European Union to bring this matter as well as other grave matters in the past to the Vietnamese government.

Last, we demand the Vietnamese authorities to immediately cease their attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, open right away an investigation into the incident as mentioned above, and announce the findings to the public as soon as possible.

Jointly signed by:

Civil Society Forum

The Independent League of Vietnamese Writers

The Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam

Le Hieu Dang Club

Phan Tay Ho Club

Van Lang Group

Bauxite Vietnam Forum

Bau Bi Tuong Than Association

Vietnam Path Movement

Vietnam UPR Working Group

Green Trees

Free Citizens Community

The Network of Vietnamese Bloggers

The Project 88

Tieng Dan Viet Media

and number of Intellectuals, Writers, Artists and Journalists within and without Vietnam

4 things that VOICE changed my life forever

In order to enhance the interns’ public communication skill, VOICE usually organizes presentation competition simulating according to the form of “TED Talk”. They do not only present in Vietnamese but also in English. There will be three TED Talk competitions in one six-months long-term training program of VOICE: two in Vietnamese and one in English.

The following is the script of Hannah Vu’s speech that won the first place in the last TED Talk competition:

My name is Hannah, I am 24 years old. I am an activist from Vietnam, and I am also an intern at VOICE, I have been in the Philippines for 6 months.

6 months ago I wanted to become a rich person with a lot of money, today I still want to become a rich person but of knowledge and loves.

6 months ago I didn’t know how to introduce myself in English, but today I can make an English presentation.

6 months ago, I was single, today I have a very “handsome” boyfriend.

So, why my life has changed too fast? It’s because of VOICE.

Today I will talk about 4 things that VOICE changed my life forever.

Firstly, VOICE gives me an opportunity to go back to school. I had to leave my school when I was 15 years old because of family problems. My dad passed away when I was 10 years old. After that, my family didn’t have enough money for me to continue in school.

Going back to school always is my dream, but it seemed impossible. That’s why when I got VOICE scholarship and came here, I have to say as my dream comes true. At VOICE school, I have classes, I have teachers, I have classmates and I can learn everything what I loved to.

The second thing that VOICE changes me is respecting the differences. Before I came here I didn’t hate but I also didn’t like LGBT people, now I really love them. Before I came here it was very easy to make me angry if someone say something not good about my religion, but now I feel comfortable and I want to hear more from them. I have to change myself a lot because of VOICE working environment. At VOICE, there are people from different regions of Vietnam: the North, the South, and from the center. There are also different religions: Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists.

VOICE gave me a lesson: the only way we can live together happily is for us to respect the differences of each other.

Bốn điều VOICE đã thay đổi cuộc đời tôi

Thirdly, VOICE makes me more confident. When I first came here, my English was zero, as our office manager used to say: when I came here, even I could not spell my name. But today I can stand here and do a TED talk in English in front of all of you. Next month, I am going to some conferences abroad and I will have some English presentations. The important thing is I believe that I can do well. I know I still need to improve more, but I think it’s good for me for six months.

And not only English but also a lot of skills that VOICE gives me. I cannot imagine myself a worker 3 years ago can do all things what I am saying today. 3 years ago I even didn’t know how to use computer, I didn’t know what Microsoft word or excel is. VOICE helps me to achieve the impossible things. I know I tried my best, but I understand that I cannot try myself without VOICE.

Finally, that VOICE changes me. After 6 months I can see my passion more clearly. I know who I want to become and what I need to do to help our country.  And, after 6 months, I got a lot of skills, experiences.

Today I can see the big picture of Vietnam. I know how to build a team of people with the same vision and mission, I know how to start a social project and make a good campaign.

Today I am confident to say: I am a young person, I am an activist, I will contribute to democratic process of Vietnam. And I will inspire the other people.

Every day there are many opportunities coming to us. For me, I am very happy about what I did choose 6 months ago, it was my opportunity.

In our lives , there are many turning points. To me, until now, the most wonderful turning point in my life is coming to VOICE.

Thank you VOICE.

Thank you for listening.

VOICE Australia and Prisoner of conscience Dinh Nguyen Kha’s mother advocate for human rights in Vietnam

On 12 July 2017, VOICE, along with a number of interested civil society organizations (CSOS) met with Dr. Lachlan Strahan, First Assistant Secretary of the Multilateral Policy Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, Australia, ahead of the fourteenth Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue, which is expected to be held in Canberra in August.

Ms. Giang Nguyen represented VOICE Australia and Ms. Anna Nguyen represented VOICE, along with Mrs. Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, mother of Prisoner of conscience, Dinh Nguyen Kha, who is currently serving a 6-year sentence for distributing pamphlets critical of the Vietnamese government.

VOICE Australia cùng mẹ tù nhân chính trị Đinh Nguyên Kha đi vận động cho nhân quyền Việt Nam
VOICE Australia and political prisoner Dinh Nguyen Kha’s mother advocate for human rights in Vietnam

The Dialogue is an important component of the bilateral relationship between Australia and Vietnam, which allows discussion of the full range of human rights issues of interest and concern in a constructive, franks and open atmosphere.

Ms. Anna Nguyen, on behalf of VOICE, made a number of submissions to Dr. Strahan and his staff at DFAT in order to help expand civil society in Vietnam and send a strong international message to the Vietnamese government.

This was VOICE’s third participation in the meeting prior to the Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. VOICE will continue to play an integral role in future dialogues.

VOICE representative, Ms Anna Nguyen and Mrs Nguyen Thi Kim Lien met with Ms. Elaine Pearson, Australia Director at Human Rights Watch today in Sydney to discuss matters of concern relating to prisoners of conscience and human rights issues in Vietnam. Specially, Dinh Nguyen Kha’s current medical condition and Human Rights Watch’s Vietnam report, No Country for Human Rights Activists: Assaults on Bloggers, and Democracy Campaigners in Vietnam, published on 18 June 2017, was brought up, as well as Mrs. Lien Nguyen’s idea to start a network for parents of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.

VOICE Australia cùng mẹ tù nhân chính trị Đinh Nguyên Kha đi vận động cho nhân quyền Việt Nam
VOICE Australia and political prisoner Dinh Nguyen Kha’s mother advocate for human rights in Vietnam

Human Rights Watch is an American-founded international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights and has routinely called out on the Vietnamese government and authorities on its treatment of bloggers and human rights activists.

The New York Times: With Social Media, Vietnam’s Dissidents Grow Bolder Despite Crackdown

HANOI, Vietnam — A prominent blogger and environmental activist in Vietnam was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison on charges of national security offenses, including sharing anti-state propaganda on social media.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, better known by her online handle Mother Mushroom, had been held incommunicado since she was arrested in October, and attendance at her trial was strictly controlled.

But barely one hour after the verdict was handed down on Thursday, one of Ms. Quynh’s lawyers summarized his arguments and posted her final statement at the trial to his 61,000 Facebook followers.

New York Times: Nhờ mạng xã hội, các nhà bất đồng chính kiến ở Việt Nam ngày càng quả cảm bất chấp các cuộc đàn áp
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, the Vietnamese blogger known as Mother Mushroom, at her trial Thursday. A lawyer posted a statement from her on Facebook. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I hope that everyone will speak up and fight, overcome their own fears to build a better country,” she said, according to the lawyer. The statement was reposted thousands of times.

In authoritarian Vietnam, the internet has become the de facto forum for the country’s growing number of dissenting voices. Facebook connections in particular have mobilized opposition to government policies; they played a key role in mass protests against the state’s handling of an environmental disaster last year. Now, the government is tightening its grip on the internet, arresting and threatening bloggers, and pressing Facebook and YouTube to censor what appears on their sites.

“Facebook is being used as an organizing tool, as a self-publishing platform, as a monitoring device for people when they are being detained and when they get released,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

Facebook is being used “to connect communities that otherwise wouldn’t be connected,” he said.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, 27, a pro-democracy activist, said the growing number of dissidents forging connections through social media had emboldened him.

The first time the police interrogated him in 2011, he said, he felt utterly alone. His parents and friends disapproved of his political writings, and he knew few other people he could turn to for help.

Mr. Tuan still faces police harassment and his passport has been confiscated. But the most recent time he was called in for questioning, he posted a copy of the summons to Facebook, along with a satirical note demanding to be paid for the time he spent in custody.

His note went viral, and other people followed suit, posting their own police summonses on Facebook and asking for compensation. “Regarding activism, I cannot feel lonely anymore,” he said.

New York Times: Nhờ mạng xã hội, các nhà bất đồng chính kiến ở Việt Nam ngày càng quả cảm bất chấp các cuộc đàn áp
Nguyen Anh Tuan, a human rights activist, said that when police interrogated him in 2011, he had no one to turn to. But now with supporters on Facebook, “I cannot feel lonely anymore,” he said. Credit Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times

Vietnam’s Facebook users — who now number 45 million, almost half the country’s population — use the site to organize prison visits and vigils outside police stations for detainees, and to solicit donations for political prisoners. And dissidents are increasingly migrating political and personal blogs, which can be easily blocked by the government, onto Facebook, which is so widely used that blocking it entirely would not be feasible.

Mr. Tuan helps run a fund that supports the families of prisoners of conscience, including Ms. Quynh’s mother and two young children. He said that much of the support now came from people inside the country sending money from their personal bank accounts, which the state can trace. In the past, he said, overseas Vietnamese communities drove most of the dissent and supplied most of the money.

“They know very well that they could be checked by the government, but they dare to do it,” he said of his local donors.

That has not gone unnoticed by the government, which is also asserting its authority in new ways. Ms. Quynh is one of over 100 bloggers and activists jailed in Vietnam, according to Human Rights Watch. Pham Minh Hoang, another popular blogger, was stripped of his citizenship and deported last week to France, where he also holds citizenship.

The government has strategically cut access to Facebook when protests are expected, and earlier this year asked both Facebook and YouTube to help it eliminate fake accounts and other “toxic” content, like anti-government material, saying it had identified up to 8,000 YouTube videos that fit that description, according to the local newspaper Tuoi Tre. The government also warned Vietnamese companies that their ads must not appear next to that sort of content.

Facebook has said its policy is to abide by local laws, although there was no indication it had removed content in Vietnam thus far.

Nguyen Quang A, a retired computer scientist and former Communist party member who is now a dissident, said he felt the human rights situation was as bad as ever.

Last week, shortly before a planned interview, he was picked up by police near his house and taken for a five-and-a-half-hour drive to the seaside and back. He said he had been similarly detained 11 other times in the past year and a half.

He suggested the government was under increasing pressure from citizens frustrated by its handling of recent environmental and land issues. When a chemical spill at the Formosa Steel company killed tons of fish last year, outrage coalesced online, where protests were organized, photographs of the disaster spread rapidly and the hashtag #Ichoosefish became a rallying cry.

“I guess that they are too afraid,” Mr. Quang A said. “They see the situation is too dangerous for them, and they see peaceful activists as a very dangerous enemy.”

In a report released last month, Human Rights Watch detailed what it called a “disturbing trend” of bloggers and activists being beaten on the street by thugs known as “con do.” It tallied 36 such attacks from January 2015 to this April, only one of which the police investigated.

New York Times: Nhờ mạng xã hội, các nhà bất đồng chính kiến ở Việt Nam ngày càng quả cảm bất chấp các cuộc đàn áp
Pham Anh Cuong, left, was alarmed by photographs online showing how brutally an activist, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, right, had been beaten by five men, prompting him to become more politically outspoken. Credit Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times

The report relies partly on the activists’ own photos and videos of their injuries, often filmed shakily on smartphones and quickly shared online.

Jonathan London, a Vietnam specialist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said that despite recent repression, the transformation wrought by the internet in a short period had been “astonishing and hopeful.”

It is “remarkable that in a country that as recently as 15 or 20 years ago had one of the lowest rates of telephone usage in the world has thrust rapidly into an era of 24-hour news and continuous social and political criticism accessible to everyone,” he said.

Pham Anh Cuong, 45, an electrical engineer, was not outspoken about politics until two years ago, when an activist he followed online, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, 43, was severely beaten by five men. Mr. Cuong saw photographs of Mr. Tuyen’s bloody face and was alarmed by the brutality of the attack.

Today, he considers himself “one who raises my voice,” if not fully a dissident. His goal is to share information with family and friends, rather than depend on the mainstream news media, which is nearly all state-owned.

“The very first time I wrote on Facebook, nobody even ‘liked’ it — they were scared of pressing the like button,” he said. “Now people are starting to like and they are starting to share as well.”

Offline, he now considers Mr. Tuyen and other dissidents friends, and several of them play together on a soccer team, the No-U FC. (“No-U” refers to a U-shaped line marking China’s bold territorial claims in the South China Sea, an issue that galvanized many Vietnamese dissidents several years ago.) A Facebook page meticulously tracks the team’s wins and losses, as well as its members’ frequent run-ins with the security police.

In a cafe in Hanoi last week, the two friends simultaneously chatted, chain-smoked and checked Facebook. They noticed a state media story criticizing Mother Mushroom for receiving a cash prize from a human rights group in Stockholm. Mr. Tuyen immediately tagged a Swedish diplomat to alert her to the piece and asked the rights group for comment.

The two began scrolling again.

“Here’s news from one of my friends, a doctor in Saigon, who just heard the news that Mother Mushroom is in debt,” Mr. Tuyen said.

“The doctor in Saigon raised his voice that we should contribute to give money to her family,” he said.

He typed for a moment, then looked up again.

“I just commented, ‘I will join.’”

By 

VOICE Statement on Blogger Me Nam’s Trial

VOICE STATEMENT ON BLOGGER ME NAM’S TRIAL
30 JUNE 2017

Blogger Me Nam was convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment after a one-day trial in Vietnam yesterday. She had dared to criticize the government in her blogs, calling for transparency and accountability, as well as social and political reforms. Despite their peaceful nature, she was found guilty of ‘conducting propaganda against the state’, a criminal offence under Vietnam’s draconian Penal Code.

VOICE is shocked and outraged over the sentencing of Blogger Me Nam by Vietnam’s kangaroo court system, which did not even allow her mother and two young children to attend the trial. Her mother was only allowed to follow the trial through a TV screen in an adjacent room.

VOICE is appalled by the inhumane treatment Blogger Me Nam has received since her arrest. She was denied her right to see her appointed legal counsel, which was only granted recently, denied her right to wear her chosen attire at the trial, and even denied her basic right to the use of sanitary products. It is the intention of the Vietnamese authorities to strip Me Nam of her integrity and self-respect. She was forbidden to see her family until one day before the trial, the first and only time since her arrest in October 2016. The meeting lasted five minutes.

Yet, despite the grave deprivation and gross violations of her rights, this is what Blogger Me Nam said before the court: ‘we each only have one life to live but if given the choice, I would still do it exactly the same… people are only free and happy if they have the right to express themselves, to discuss issues they care about. I hope everyone will soon raise their own voice and fight for their rights so that they can overcome their own fears, and build a better and greater nation.’

VOICE will continue to advocate for the unconditional release of Blogger Me Nam and all other political prisoners of Vietnam. But more importantly, VOICE calls on all Vietnamese to heed Blogger Me Nam’s call to continue fighting for their rights, to overcome their own fears, so that one day Vietnam will be a free and democratic country, where no one will be tried and sentenced to imprisonment for merely speaking their minds.

SIGNED:

1. VOICE
2. VOICE Vietnam
3. VOICE Australia
4. VOICE Canada
5. VOICE Europe
6. VOICE Norway

Full version: VOICE Statement on Blogger Me Nam’s Trial

Reporting Live: The Trial of Mother Mushroom 29/06/2017

Reporting Live: The Trial of Mother Mushroom 29/06/2017 (VOICE team synthesis)

– 5:10 PM: The court has just announced Mother Mushroom’s sentence: 10 years in prison.

– 2:00 PM: Labor Newspaper has published the article, “Proposal of 8-10 Years Imprisonment for Mother Mushroom.” Link here: http://nld.com.vn/thoi-su-trong-nuoc/de-nghi-8-10-nam-tu-doi-voi-me-nam-2017062913405768.htm
There are many people participating in the public hearing, but in reality, many people have not been able to even enter the court. The article posted a photo showing Mushroom’s mother attending the trial, but in the picture, no one was Ms. Lan, Mushroom’s mother.

– 1:45 PM: Trinh Kim Tien interviewed Lawyer Vo An Don after the morning trial. Mother Mushroom has five lawyers but only three lawyers are present, including Vo An Don. Apparently, Mushroom proposed to postpone the trial, but it was not approved. Her attorneys ventured to meet with her, but they were also dismissed. All the while, Mushroom is still being denied to see her Mother, Ms. Lan.

– 1:00 PM: Trinh Kim Tien interviewed Ms. Lan after she left the courtroom. She explained that she was not in the actual trial room, but was instead taken to a separate room to watch it all on television. According to Ms. Lan, Mother Mushroom was not able to present her own argument and view without being interrupted. Ms. Lan claims that the 8-10 year jail proposal by the procuracy was a completely unjust sentence and it only served to expose the regime’s immorality.
https://www.facebook.com/trinhkimkim/videos/1519361338084095/

– 12:50 PM: Lawyer Le Luan, advocate for Mother Mushroom, shared on Facebook this morning: I request the convening of three assessors of the Department of Information and Communication Khanh Hoa province on many terms. The argument “I find it difficult to understand,” that the chairman spewed at my request is not justified should be reconsidered.

– 12:00 PM: Nguyen Minh Bao Ngoc, cousin of Mother Mushroom, has been arrested and taken to the Xuan Huan Police Station (address: 11 Phan Boi Chau, Nha Trang). Because of this, Ms. Lan and her family are moving to Xuan Huan to demand her release.

– 11:45 AM: Lunch break; at 2:00 PM, the trial continues.
Lawyer Le Kha Thanh reveals that the prosecutor has proposed 8-10 additional years in jail for Mother Mushroom.

– 11:20 AM: Representatives of several civil society organizations are holding a meeting to protest the trial of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Mother Mushroom) in Khanh Hoa, Nha Trang. Https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=973399029466814&set=a.135990509874341.27922.100003901786714&type=3&theater

– 11:00 AM: Blogger Trinh Kim Tien has updated on Facebook that the morning trial is coming to an end. There is also a doctor, guarded by security, standing outside the court door for unknown reasons.

– 10:40 AM: Young activists protest outside the courthouse by standing behind the barriers and duct-taping their mouths shut.

Tường thuật Phiên xử Mẹ Nấm 29/06/2017 (VOICE team tổng hợp)

– 9:40 AM: From Saigon, Vo Hong Ly took to the streets waving the high banner:
“Free Mother Mushroom
Patriotism is not Evil
Environmental & Human Rights for Vietnam”

– 8:35 AM: Outside the trial area, blogger Nguyen Ho Nhat Thanh hosted a live stream (https://www.facebook.com/paulothanhnguyen/videos/1545808958796675/) where he interviewed a few young supporters of Mother Mushroom. One of the supporters, young Phat, states that Mushroom’s sensible activism in fighting for human rights, against Formosa, is not malicious propaganda. It is not something to be afraid of. Another supporter named Nam claims that the authorities should honor Mother Mushroom as an international organization and peacekeeper, rather than condemn her.

Blogger Trinh Kim Tien interviewed Nguyen Minh Hung, Mother Mushroom’s Uncle (Ms. Lan’s brother). Minh Hung left his home quite early to attend the court session, but he was not allowed inside. The post can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/trinhkimkim/videos/1519031794783716 /
He says: “I came here for the public hearing but it is nowhere near “public”. Proof is that we are relatives, but we not let in. “

When asked if he knew about Mushroom’s activities, Hung replied, “My niece did nothing wrong. She only speaks truth about this State, but the State does not like the truth. I hope the State will reconsider, and dare to face reality.”

Also, Le Cong Dinh, a prestigious lawyer, posted a facebook status (https://www.facebook.com/LSLeCongDinh/posts/1900342693572839) that reads: “DOWN WITH THE RIDICULOUS TRIAL OF MOTHER MUSHROOM! No matter the outcome, that judgement would fall on the inhumane communist regime.”

– 8:30 AM: The Khanh Hoa People’s Court opens the trial of Mother Mushroom, accusing her of committing “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. There are four lawyers for Mother Mushroom in this trial: Nguyen Ha Luan, Le Van Luan, Nguyen Kha Thanh and Vo An Don. Two unidentified people, one woman and one young man, have been arrested in the court area simply for picking up their phones. More than 10 supporters that have traveled from Saigon to Nha Trang are standing 100 meters away from the court area, intermixed with the Khanh Hoa and Saigon security enclosures.

Six of Mother Mushroom’s close friends are in the court area, and no one has been allowed inside, except Ms. Lan, Mother Mushroom’s Mother. However, no one is able contact Ms. Lan. This is possibly due to the fact that outside, there are many signal waves that are being jammed or tampered with by the Government. All means of communication are cut off.

– 7:45 AM: Ms. Tuyet Lan, Mother Mushroom’s mother and blogger Trinh Kim Tien have begun walking to the courthouse, past the ring of police and secret services. They could not acquire a taxi or bus because of the heavy surveillance. Ms. Lan’s family had to resort to using a motorbike to get to the court. At about 7:45 am, Ms. Lan was admitted into the court area, but she did not know if she could go to the specific courtroom her daughter was in. Meanwhile, blogger Trinh Kim Tien was blocked outside, despite her request to attend the trial as a related person. Tien was also asked to shut down her phone as she was shooting a live stream on Facebook.

– 7:00 AM: The current situation is quite tense; it is difficult to approach the trial. The police forces are surrounding the trial within a 500 meter radius. The house of Mother Mushroom’s mother is also surrounded by nearly 20 police officers, some in uniform and some wearing ordinary clothing.

– Yesterday afternoon (June 28, 2017): Mother Mushroom’s daughter and mother were allowed to see her, despite the countless barriers that were assembled to block away the public.
However, Mother Mushroom was able to meet with her mother for just five minutes. Her devastated mother told Mushroom to simply apologize, but Mushroom insisted, “If you let me start this journey over and choose where to go, I would have done what I did.”

Background: Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, more commonly known as Mother Mushroom, writes about social equality and speaks out for democracy and human rights. Mother Mushroom was the Civil Rights Defender of the year in 2015, awarded by the Swedish Civil Rights Defenders Foundation. She was also awarded the International Woman of Courage Award in 2017 by Melania Trump, the First Lady of the United States.

In relation to the aforementioned activities, she has been arrested several times between 2009 and 2016. However, the most eminent case and the reason for her trial today is based on her last arrest, which has kept her in prison from October 2016 until now.

#FreeMeNam
#FreeNguyenNgocNhuQuynh
#WomenOfCourage
#FormosaGetOut

VOICE Bangkok Introduction

VOICE Bangkok officially set up its permanent presence in December 2015 and is led by VOICE’s ASEAN Program Coordinator, Anna Nguyen. VOICE Bangkok is responsible for the following:

  1. Refugee: Humanitarian and legal assistance to the stateless Vietnamese asylum seekers in South East Asia
  2. Advocacy:
    a. Implementing advocacy strategies involving the promotion of human rights in Vietnam as well as raising awareness on behalf of Vietnamese human rights defenders at risk and political prisoners.
    b.  Seeking humanitarian assistance for human rights defenders at risk and families of political prisoners.
    c.  Filing communications on behalf of Vietnamese human rights defenders and political prisoners through the use of various UN Special Procedures, such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
  3. Training: Finding internship and training opportunities for the long-term interns in Manila.

Our achievements so far:

  • Resettling at least 90 Vietnamese stateless asylum seekers that had been left stranded in Thailand for 27 years to Canada (since 2014)
  • Receiving at least 50,000 USD from a number of international NGOs and bodies for human rights defenders at risk and families of political prisoners
  • Developing a close working relationship with the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Vietnam Human Rights Desk Officer of the US and Swedish Embassy, and international NGOS including Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Forum Asia, and Amnesty International for advocacy purposes

Giới thiệu về văn phòng của VOICE tại Bangkok - Thái Lan

Giới thiệu về văn phòng của VOICE tại Bangkok - Thái Lan

English Exercise: Vision for Vietnam

Let’s take a look at the new interns’ article: Vision for Vietnam, as partial fulfillment of their English proficiency course.

Bài tập tiếng Anh Tầm nhìn cho Việt Nam

VISION FOR VIETNAM

Max: To develop an independent and free society in Vietnam, we need democracy. People must be empowered with their rights and should be responsible in ensuring that the government will implement appropriate social welfare policies.

Only when we understand our rights, we will live in full democratic environment which will help our country grow. People need to raise awareness by learning, participating in social movements, paying attention to the interests of other classes, and by supporting appropriate policies which should benefit everyone, not just the select few.

The Vietnamese society should be more transparent when working with public authorities. The government must take care of the people’s social life and be transparent about financial resource management; it needs to have a strict monitoring and inspection mechanism to avoid the misuse of taxpayer’s money. Civil servants must fulfill their roles and responsibilities, that is: to serve the people. They should not gratuitously persecute and force people to do things that are not in accordance with the regulations of the law.

Associations need to operate independently, to play a crucial role in the government, and to serve the mass.

Finally, the government should improve the quality of life, especially in the education and health sectors. There should be no bureaucracy and corruption, always ensuring that these two areas are clean.

Peter: The most important issue of Viet Nam is the political system which has to be changed by the people. The wrong political system has led my country to the chasm of poverty, so the people need a new political system which will optimize our economic plan and can make Viet Nam wealthy.

I see that in next 10 years, the communist party would collapse and my country would have democratic system setup, in which the people will be able to choose a better government by election. Democracy will benefit the people in my country, for it can have precise rights which will be written in the constitution, and we can really govern our country.

When we have this new government, the people can rebuild from post communism crisis. I firmly believe that in 30 years, my country will develop much. However, we have to opt for an appropriate way to go like Capitalism and avoid Social Democracy system. When we have this form of government, economic freedom will be open to all, allowing people the right to own properties and to use them to build more localized businesses, which in turn, will prosper the country.

I surely believe that we will have a better education system as well, one that would help figure out and develop people’s own talent and produce morally sound citizens. The economy will be prosperous so that everyone will have equal opportunities to work and build their own businesses. Unemployment rate will be at its lowest and almost everyone will have a job to support their life. The quality of life of the people, either in an urban area or rural area, will be high, and malnourishment will be a thing of the past. Improved social services will meet people’s needs quickly, and the Government will make sure that safety will be provided for the people in our country.

Clark: Vietnam’s future will be a crossroad of Eastern and Western cultures, which will harmonize the ideology and advances in science and technology of the rest of the world. Vietnam will develop a balance between the material and the spiritual, it will have a sustainable economic development along with guaranteed living environment, and it’s natural values will be increasingly diverse and rich.

Vietnam must concentrate and actively develop “Knowledge – Based Economy” to become the center of economic trade to the world. Vietnam will provide the international market a wide range of products, raw materials, and services that they need.

Full version: Vision for Vietnam PDF file

 

Cease Reprisals Against Mother Mushroom’s Family

Civil Rights Defenders has been informed that the family of detained blogger Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh (also known as Me Nam or “Mother Mushroom”) has been surrounded and confined by security police. Vietnam’s authorities should immediately lift this brazenly illegal measure and cease reprisals against Mother Mushroom’s family, which add to the injustice already made to the prominent blogger and her loved ones.

On 20 May 2017, according to her mother Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Lan, the family’s house in Nha Trang was surrounded by over 50 security policemen in both plain clothes and uniforms, effectively placing it and Mother Mushroom’s family members under siege. Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Lan posted a message on Facebook reporting the events.

She added that nobody notified her of the reasons behind such treatment, and that such behavior of the state and Khanh Hoa province police reflected a pattern of abuse of power and state oppression of the elderly, the weak and vulnerable children.

The confinement of Mother Mushroom’s family is believed to be related to the upcoming Vietnam-US Human Rights Dialogue, which is scheduled for 23 May 2017 in Hanoi. The arbitrary detention of bloggers such as Mother Mushroom is expected to be a topic for discussion between the two states. The act of confinement may be an attempt to prevent a US diplomatic delegation from meeting Mother Mushroom’s family ahead of the dialogue, a few weeks after she was awarded the prestigious 2017 International Women of Courage Award.

Prominent blogger Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, who is known by her pen name “Mother Mushroom,” has been detained incommunicado since 10 October 2016. She has been denied the right to meet with her family, including two young children, and lawyer. She stands accused of conducting “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

Civil Rights Defenders reiterates its call on Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release her and to repeal Article 88 and other “national security” provisions of the Penal Code which are used to silence human rights defenders, bloggers and other critical and independent voices.

Resource: https://www.civilrightsdefenders.org/news/vietnam-cease-reprisals-against-mother-mushrooms-family/

English vocabulary about Politics

VOICE tổng hợp và xin gửi đến các bạn danh sách các từ vựng về Chính trị trong tiếng Anh. Nếu các bạn có góp ý hay bổ xung, hãy email về cho chúng tôi tại: contact@vietnamvoice.org. 

Asylum (n) /əˈsaɪ.ləm/: tị nạn chính trị
Ballot (n) /ˈbæl.ət/: bỏ phiếu kín
Bill (n) /bɪl/: dự thảo luật
Bipartisan (n) – /baɪˈpɑːr.t̬ə.zən/: lưỡng đảng
Coalition (n) /koʊ.əˈlɪʃ.ən/: sự liên minh
Constitution (n) /kɑːn.stəˈtuː.ʃən/: hiến pháp
Democracy (n) /-ˈmɑː.krə-/: nền dân chủ, chế độ dân chủ
Dictatorship (n) /dɪkˈteɪ.t̬ɚ.ʃɪp/: chế độ độc tài, nền chuyên chính
Dissolution (n) /dɪs.əˈluː.ʃən/: sự giải tán, giải thể
Election (n) /iˈlek.ʃən/: sự bầu cử, sự lựa chọn
Electorate (n) /iˈlek.tɚ.ət/: toàn bộ cử tri, khu bầu cử
Gerrymander (n) /ˈdʒer•iˌmæn•dər/: sự sắp đặt chuyên chế (gian lận dàn xếp lại bầu cử để thay đổi kết quả)
Government (n) /ˈɡʌv.ɚn.mənt/: chính phủ, nội các
Human rights (n) /ˌhjuː.mən ˈraɪts/: nhân quyền
Civil liberty (n) /ˈsɪv•əl ˈlɪb•ər•t̬i: quyền tự do của công dân
To enforce a rule (v) /ɪnˈfɔːrs. ə.ruːl/: thi hành một điều luật
International recognition (n) /ɪn.t̬ɚˈnæʃ.ən.əl. ˌrek.əɡˈnɪʃ.ən/: sự công nhận của quốc tế
Incumbent (n) /ɪnˈkʌm.bənt/: người có phận sự, chức trách
Law (n) /lɑː/: luật
Lobby (n) /ˈlɑː.bi/: các vận động hành lang
Monarchy (n) /ˈmɑː.nɚ.ki/: nền quân chủ, chế độ quân chủ
Nominee (n) /ˌnɑː.məˈni/: ứng cử viên
Opposition (n) /ˌɑː.pəˈzɪʃ.ən/: phe đối lập
Policy (n) /ˈpɑː.lə.si/: chính sách
Politician (n) /ˌpɑː.ləˈtɪʃ.ən/: chính trị gia
Politics (n) /ˈpɑː.lə.tɪks/: hoạt động chính trị
Poll (v) /poʊl/: bỏ phiếu
Polling station (n) /ˈpoʊ.lɪŋ ˌsteɪ.ʃən/: điểm bỏ phiếu
Regime (n) /reɪˈʒiːm/: chế độ, chính thể
Run for election (n) /rʌn. ɚ. iˈlek.ʃən/: cuộc chạy đua bầu cử
Spin doctor (n) /ˈspɪn ˌdɑːk.tɚ/: phát ngôn viên của một đảng phái hay người ủng hộ một cá tính chính trị nào đó, bằng cách cung cấp các tin tức theo hướng thuận lợi cho đảng phái đó cho các giới truyền thông
Turn out (n) /tɝːn. aʊt/: kết quả (bầu cử)
Vote (v) /voʊt/: bầu cử

Socialism (n) /ˈsoʊʃəlɪzəm/: Chủ nghĩa xã hội
Capitalism (n) /ˈkæpɪtəlɪzəm/: Chủ nghĩa tư bản
Communism (n) /ˈkɑːmjunɪzəm/: Chủ nghĩa cộng sản
Country (n) /ˈkʌntri/: Nước, quốc gia
State (n) /steɪt/: Bang, chính quyền
Border (n) /ˈbɔːrdər/: Biên giới
Monarch (n) /ˈmɑːnɑːrk/: Quân chủ, vị quân chủ
President (n) /ˈprezɪdənt/: Tổng thống
Leader (n) /ˈliːdər/: Lãnh tụ, người chỉ đạo
Political system (compound n) /pəˈlɪtɪkl ˈsɪstəm/: Hệ thống chính trị
Democrat (n) /ˈdeməkræt/: Đảng Dân Chủ, người thuộc đảng Dân Chủ
Republican (n): /rɪˈpʌblɪkən/: Đảng Cộng Hòa, người thuộc Đảng Cộng Hòa
Government (n) /ˈɡʌvərnmənt/: Chính phủ
Governor (n) /ˈɡʌvərnər/: Thống đốc
Prime minister (compound n) /praɪm ˈmɪnɪstər/: Thủ tướng
Minister (n) /ˈmɪnɪstər/: Bộ trưởng
Ministry (n) /ˈmɪnɪstri/: Bộ
General (n) /ˈdʒenrəl/: Đại tướng
Ambassador (n) /æmˈbæsədər/: Đại sứ
Civil servant (compound n) /ˈsɪvl ˈsɜːrvənt/: Công chức
Diplomat (n) /ˈdɪpləmæt/: Nhà ngoại giao
Election (n) /ɪˈlekʃn/: Cuộc bầu cử, tuyển cử
Campaign (n) /kæmˈpeɪn/: Chiến dịch
Candidate (n) /ˈkændɪdeɪt/: Ứng cử viên
Citizen (n) /ˈsɪtɪzn/: Công dân
Federal (adj) /ˈfedərəl/: Liên bang

A civil liberty: quyền tự do của công dân
An advocate of the policy: người ủng hộ chính sách
The governor’s authority: quyền hạn của thống đốc
A presidential election: cuộc bầu cử tổng thống
A political party: một Đảng chính trị
Apply for citizenship: xin nhập quốc tịch
A new generation: một thế hệ mới
Cultural diversity: sự đa dạng về văn hóa
A security camera: camera an ninh
A general tendency: một khuynh hướng chung
An annual budget: ngân sách hàng năm
Official statistics: những thống kê chính thức

Minister of Education and Training: Bộ trưởng Giáo dục và Đào tạo
Minister of Justice: Bộ trưởng Tư pháp
Misnister of Public Health: Bộ trưởng Y tế
Minister of Transport: Bộ trưởng Giao thông Vận tải
Municipal People’s Commitee: Ủy ban Nhân dân Thành Phố
National Assembly member: Đại biểu Quốc hội (VN)
Representative: dân biểu

Secretary of Defense: Bộ trưởng Quốc phòng (Mỹ)
Secretary of State: Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao (Mỹ)
Secretary-General of the United Nations: Tổng thư ký Liên hiệp quốc
Senator: Thượng nghị sĩ
The Speaker: Chủ tịch Hạ viện (Mỹ)
UN High Commissioner: Cao ủy Liên hiệp quốc
Undersecretary: Thứ trưởng
Vice-President: Phó tổng thống

Civil society across Asia is flowering but fragile

The proliferation of civil society organizations (CSOs) throughout Asia is having a significant impact on relations between the state and citizens, on the institutions of the state and on prevailing norms and values. At a recent conference organized by Akihiro Ogawa, professor of Japanese studies at the University of Melbourne, scholars from around the region gathered to assess civil society and the forces that support and threaten it. This gathering testifies to the expansion and deepening of civil society across Asia. While the flowering of civil society across the region is undeniable, the gains that have been made are fragile.

In recent decades the range of Asian CSOs has expanded rapidly, and their concerns now run the gamut from welfare, the environment, refugees, legal services and gender to counseling, trafficking, entrepreneurship, education and beyond. Most of these nongovernmental groups are small, understaffed and underfunded, but they persist because they must, and draw on the passion of the committed. There is no shortage of needs and public demands for the various activities CSOs engage in, yet they are also constrained by regulatory hurdles and wary, intolerant governments.

From Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka to Cambodia and Vietnam, illiberal democracies and authoritarian governments are targeting foreign funding because they suspect that CSOs are agents of globalization spreading Western values, ideologies and practices. These suspicions are fueled by concerns that CSOs are undermining and discrediting the state by engaging in advocacy for people and causes that have been marginalized and mistreated — for example, to further human rights, and on behalf of LGBT people or ethnic and religious minorities. By empowering people, CSOs challenge and subvert the state’s monopoly on power.

There are two major trends influencing the 21st century operating environment for CSOs in Asia: the spread of neoliberal economic policies and the rise and consolidation of illiberal democracies. Neoliberal economic reforms are varied, but they usually involve reducing the role of the state and cutting taxes and government budgets. The impact on vulnerable people in society can be catastrophic as programs aimed at mitigating poverty, improving living standards and addressing health and educational problems are slashed. Such reforms create a niche for CSOs as they respond to what is effectively an outsourcing of government services.

Problematically, neoliberal reforms tend to accentuate disparities and polarize society. Across the globe we are witnessing the marginalized respond to the broken promises of globalization and the gloomy omens they face. Pankaj Mishra, in “The Age of Anger: A History of the Present” (2017), captures the zeitgeist, explaining how the neoliberal democratic model is under siege because it is not delivering. The internet enables widespread awareness of what only some can attain. Envy, disappointment and anxiety are alienating even the relatively privileged in developing nations because they find limited opportunities and can only climb so high before they realize their dreams have been thwarted. It is this hothouse of discontent that fuels populist politics and breeds radicalism.

The other significant trend shaping the CSO ecosystem in Asia is the spread of authoritarian governance. Illiberal democracies such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia hold elections, often feature prolonged one-party rule and embrace the rule of law only when convenient, while drawing on authoritarian practices to ensure that democracy stays tightly tethered. Cronyism, corruption and a lack of transparency are defining features of illiberal democracy, and in this age of anger, repression is the favored means of retaining power. The grass-roots wildfire of frustration sparked by neoliberal reforms and heightened disparities have drawn illiberal political responses from the ruling classes.

There is no single model of illiberal democracy, but in general they stifle political debate, engage in media censorship, resort to intimidation and limit space for political contestation. They breed intolerance, encourage bigotry, engage in “othering” minorities and create a hostile climate for CSOs. This is because civil society groups disseminate liberal values antithetical to reactionary agendas. In Asia, the winds of illiberalism are gathering momentum, shrinking the space for CSOs to operate at a time when they are more needed than ever due to neoliberal reforms.

Illiberal democracies also encourage uncivil hatemongering groups that are often connected with powerful political forces that benefit from their activism. The rise of extremist religious organizations is a transnational phenomenon in South and Southeast Asia. Moderate religious groups appear to have lost ground to less-tolerant ones that promote religious chauvinism. These benefit from powerful political patrons who see them as weapons to sideline opponents and foster an uncivil society.

The emergence of a vibrant civil society in many Asian societies is not an onward and upward process, depending not only on sustained citizens’ support and participation but also on shifting political winds. In some cases, partnerships between the state and CSOs have flourished and they have helped mitigate socioeconomic problems. For example, in terms of natural disasters, in the 2000s CSOs have come into their own, playing an indispensable role in disaster relief and recovery and contributing significantly to promoting disaster resilience in vulnerable communities, with Japan being a prime example. Their vital role is recognized by states across the region, and as such they have gained social legitimacy.

Yet governments across Asia remain ambivalent about CSOs, seeing them as a combination of political threat, partner and talisman of globalization. This means closer government scrutiny and tighter regulatory monitoring because the state doesn’t trust them and wants to know what they are doing and at whose behest.

The political sensitivities of the authorities means there are no-go zones and taboo topics where CSOs are not welcome or can only operate under duress and within tightly circumscribed bounds. Even in authoritarian societies, CSOs manage to carve out space, but their activities and impact are limited so as to avoid undesired consequences. China, for example, is allowing environmental activism even as it incarcerates journalists, lawyers and other activists who venture into sensitive political issues involving repression, human rights, nepotism and corruption.

Even in nations like Indonesia that have navigated democratic transitions, civil society is not always what it seems, as some groups that enjoy the support of international donors are controlled by local elites representing legacy power networks antithetical to liberal agendas, thus thwarting good intentions. Existing power networks shape the operating environment across Asia, where CSOs are flexibly navigating an evolving space in which hazards and needs abound. And they need your generous support.

Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.

Resource: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/04/29/commentary/civil-society-across-asia-flowering-fragile/

Nội dung Chương trình đào tạo dài hạn của VOICE

Hiện nay VOICE có hai chương trình học bổng là chương trình ngắn hạn trong 2 tuần và chương trình dài hạn trong 6 tháng. Chương trình học bổng dài hạn có nội dung cụ thể như sau:

Các lớp học:

  • Tiếng Anh
  • Kỹ năng mềm: Kỹ năng giao tiếp, Quản lý thời gian, Thuyết trình, Làm việc nhóm, Xây dựng mạng lưới,…
  • Quản trị dự án xã hội: Xây dựng kế hoạch chiến lược, Tổ chức hội nhóm, Gây quỹ, Đánh giá dự án,…

VOICE cũng sẽ cung cấp các khoá học chuyên đề theo nhu cầu của học viên như:

  • Báo chí – Truyền thông
  • Vận động quốc tế
  • Hoạt động xã hội
  • Và các khoá học khác.

Bên cạnh đó, VOICE cũng sẽ tổ chức các chương trình tham quan tới:

  • Các tổ chức nhân quyền như Trung tâm Nhân quyền – Đại học Ateneo, Trung tâm nghiên cứu pháp trị Teehankee, tổ chức bảo vệ quyền của nông dân PAKISAMA…
  • Các tổ chức trợ giúp pháp lý: Quỹ trợ giúp pháp lý nhân đạo HLAF, Tổ chức trợ giúp pháp lý miễn phí FLAG…
  • Các cơ quan chính quyền như Thượng viện, Quốc hội, toà án, Cơ quan Nhân quyền Quốc gia của Philippines.
  • Các cơ quan báo chí như Rappler, Philippines Star, Inquirer…
  • Các tổ chức về môi trường như Greenpeace Philippines…

Học viên của VOICE sẽ có cơ hội đi thực tập tại các tổ chức và cơ quan chính quyền nêu trên, cũng như tham dự các khoá đào tạo và hội thảo quốc tế trong và ngoài khu vực Đông Nam Á, được tổ chức bởi các tổ chức quốc tế và chính phủ các nước.

Đặc biệt, học viên sẽ có cơ hội được tham dự các chương trình thực tập sinh tại các tổ chức quốc tế tại Đài Loan, Czech, văn phòng dân biểu liên bang và tiểu bang ở Canada và Australia cũng như Quốc hội châu Âu ở Bỉ.

Hình thức đào tạo

Nhìn chung, chương trình đào tạo 6 tháng tại VOICE sẽ được thiết kế dựa theo hướng cá thể hóa, dựa trên nhu cầu, định hướng của từng học viên. Theo đó, chúng tôi có các hình thức đào tạo mà học viên có thể lựa chọn như sau:

  • Lớp học truyền thống, seminar, và làm việc nhóm;
  • Tham gia thực tập ngắn hạn tại các tổ chức phi chính phủ tại Philippines và các nước trong khu vực;
  • Viết bài luận và thuyết trình về kết quả nghiên cứu của mình, trong đó có thuyết trình theo hình thức TED Talk bằng cả tiếng Việt và tiếng Anh;
  • Bên cạnh đó, hình thức đào tạo thông qua dự án cũng được áp dụng.