The Vietnamese: EU Officials Raised Concern Over Worrying Human Rights Situation In Vietnam

“The human rights situation in Vietnam is worrying,” according to Commissioner for Trade of the European Union, Cecilia Malmström, after her meeting with independent Vietnamese civil society organizations on March 14, 2019.

When announcing the adoption of the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements (EV-FTA) in October 2018, Commissioner Malmström had hoped that such agreements would “help spread European high standards and create possibilities for in-depth discussions on human rights and the protection of citizens.”

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On March 14, VOICE’s advocate human rights delegation met with Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade of the European Union. From left, Anna Nguyen – VOICE’s Director of Programs, Cecilia Malmström, Trinh Hoi – VOICE’ Executive Director and Nguyen Vi Yen.

However, during recent months, the human rights situation in Vietnam did not improve.

Instead, it became more concerning.

Commissioner Malmström is not the only EU official who has expressed concerns over the worrying trend of suppression on human rights in Vietnam in recent months.

32 MEPs from across the political spectrum of the EU Parliament signed a letter back in September 2018, calling on the EU to demand specific human rights improvements from Vietnam before the ratification of the EV-FTA.

EU Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, Maya Kocijancic, also confirmed in an interview with Radio Free Asia earlier this month, that during the 8th EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue held in Brussels on March 4, 2019, the EU had addressed specific cases of prisoners of conscience with the Vietnamese delegation.

Ms. Kocijancic also stated during the same interview that the annual dialogue “raised a wide range of issues related to freedom of expression, cybersecurity, the death penalty, environmental and labor rights, cooperation within the United Nations framework.”

As of today, The 88 Project’s database documented 21 Vietnamese activists are held in pre-trial detention. There are 218 other activists currently serving a prison sentence; among them, 30 are female activists and 51 indigenous political prisoners.

According to VOICE (Vietnamese Overseas Initiative for Conscience Empowerment), one of the organizations attended the meeting with Commissioner Malmström, the unconditional and in-country release of Vietnamese prisoners of conscience must be the first human rights benchmark before the ratification of the EV-FTA.

Vi Tran, from The Vietnamese.

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Photo from Malmström’s Twitter, Commissioner for Trade of the European Union.

Trí Nguyễn – Humans of VOICE

“Một ngày nào đó Việt Nam sẽ có thật nhiều những nhà lãnh đạo, và chính họ sẽ là những người tạo nên phong trào xã hội dân sự ở Việt Nam, và sẽ giải quyết được những vấn đề xã hội của chính họ, và một phần nào đó thúc đẩy phong trào dân chủ cho Việt Nam.”

Hôm nay chúng ta cùng trò chuyện với anh Trí Nguyễn, Quản lý Sự kiện của VOICE.

Trong những năm qua, hàng trăm người đã và đang đóng góp vào sự phát triển, lớn mạnh của VOICE, từ tái định cư cho người Việt tị nạn đến thúc đẩy phát triển xã hội dân sự trong nước.

Chính họ, với nỗ lực tập thể, đã định hình tầm nhìn, thực hiện sứ mệnh và triển khai các hoạt động hàng ngày, hàng tháng của VOICE.

Tuy nhiên, vì lí do nào đó, những câu chuyện về họ chưa được kể. Do vậy, chúng tôi trân trọng thực hiện một loạt những câu chuyện mang tên Humans of VOICE để công chúng hiểu hơn về những công việc và con người của VOICE.

Những câu chuyện này sẽ được kể lần lượt vào thứ Sáu mỗi tuần, vào lúc 20h, giờ Việt Nam. Mời quý vị và các bạn đón xem.

Bạn có xem mình là một Human of VOICE? Hãy cho chúng tôi biết nhé!

#HumansOfVOICE

 

The woman of VOICE

On International Women’s Day, March 8, we wish “half of the world” strength, success and happiness. We would like to honor female activists, especially female prisoners of conscience, who have sacrificed so much to fight for a better society.

The role of women is increasingly affirmed, in the family, society and at VOICE. Gender equality is one of the values that VOICE focuses on. This is reflected in our male/female ratio as well as policies that concern women.

Currently, we have two female Board members out of five people. On average, about 50% of our interns are female. This rate is also applied to our staff, including key positions such as department directors and managers. We also have policies, such as health insurance and maternity leave for both genders.

We recognize and appreciate the role of women in promoting social change. Therefore, ensuring equality in accessing opportunities for both sexes is indispensable at VOICE.

Once again, we wish you a meaningful International Women Day.

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A picture of VOICE’s female staff, interns and our beautiful dog.

Shiwei Ye – Humans of VOICE

“Currently there is a crackdown and some people say this is one of the worst cycles of crackdown that Vietnam seen in years.

I think this is precisely why it’s very important to continue to support civil society programs whether by VOICE or by any other independent civil society inside and outside of Vietnam.

To keep independent voices alive and to increase the skills and knowledge of civil society activists and human rights defenders. And to continue to engage the government and to make the government realize that an independent and vibrant civil society is actually good for the country in the long run.”

Shiwei Ye is secretary of VOICE’s Board of Directors, American.

Shiwei has worked with local, regional and international human rights organisations in advocacy, research, human rights defenders protection, capacity-building, and grant-making in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Shiwei was the senior programme officer for the Chinese NGO Human Rights in China (HRIC), and he also worked as the Southeast Asia representative for the Sweden-based Civil Rights Defenders and the France-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Shiwei has a Masters of International Affairs, focusing on human rights, from Columbia University and a BA in International Relations, focusing on peace and security, from the University of California Davis.

#HumansOfVOICE

Who is VOICE?

Through their collective efforts, they have shaped the vision, implemented the mission and deployed the daily and monthly activities of VOICE.

However, their stories have not been told yet. We now will start a series of stories called Humans of VOICE to help the public understand more about VOICE’s people and work.

These stories will be told every Friday, at 20:00, Vietnam time. Let’s wait and watch.

Would you consider yourself as a Human of VOICE? Please let us know!

#HumansOfVOICE

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What did VOICE accomplish in 2017 and 2018?

See the pictures below that highlight what we achieved in the past two years, from four main activities: Training, Civil Society, Advocacy and Refugee Resettlement.

We achieved this not only by the efforts of VOICE members but also through the support of volunteers, VOICE affiliates, partners and especially our enthusiastic supporters in Vietnam and around the world. Thank you to all of you who have made this success possible!

Read More

Tet 2019 Greetings from VOICE

The VOICE team welcomes in the Year of the Pig 2019 with a deep appreciation of our community’s past support. With hope and excitement we look forward to a new year of changes and opportunities. We at VOICE would like to wish our friends and supporters a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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VIETNAM: ‘We hope UN member states will listen to civil society’

Ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Vietnam’s human rights record at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council on 22 January 2019, CIVICUS speaks to Anna Nguyen from VOICE, a civil society organisation that promotes civil society development and advocates for human rights, including refugee protection, and the rule of law in Vietnam. Founded in 2007, VOICE’s mission is to empower individuals to build a strong, independent and vibrant civil society.

A Vietnamese-Australian lawyer, Anna Nguyen is VOICE’s Director of Programs. She oversees a training programme for Vietnamese activists in Southeast Asia, a refugee resettlement programme in Thailand and advocacy efforts, including at the UN, to raise awareness of the human rights situation in Vietnam.

Along with VOICE, Civil Society Forum, Human Rights Foundation and VOICE Vietnam, CIVICUS made a UPR submission on to the Human Rights Council in July 2018.

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What is the current situation for human rights and civil society in Vietnam?

The human rights situation in Vietnam is dire. While the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression are supposedly protected by the constitution, they are not respected in practice. In 2018, 88 human rights defenders (HRDs) were arrested, and at least 194 remain in prison for peacefully exercising their civil and political rights. This is a staggering number and surely shows that the government of Vietnam is doing as much as it can to stifle political dissent.

Civil society in Vietnam has been steadily growing since mass protests over territorial disputes with China were held in Hanoi and Saigon in 2011, and thanks to the increasing use of social media such as Facebook and YouTube. There are more independent civil society groups now than there were seven years ago, and more people are willing to speak up on Facebook and attend protests to raise awareness of atrocities committed by the government, as well as attend training programmes relating to human rights. On the other hand, the Vietnamese government has used many tactics to stifle the development of an independent civil society movement, including the brutal suppression of protests, the physical harassment and imprisonment of HRDs and its refusal to pass a law on association.

How is the government persecuting online and offline dissent?

Peaceful protests are subject to brutal suppression, and their participants are victims of harassment and continuous surveillance. In June 2018, following a mass protest opposing proposed cybersecurity and Special Economic Zones legislation, the authorities cracked down heavily on peaceful protesters by using teargas and excessive force to prevent and punish participation, resulting in a range of human rights violations, including torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Peaceful dissidents are often harassed, physically assaulted, criminalised with vague national security laws and imprisoned. In 2018, nine of the many peaceful activists imprisoned received the longest prison terms available, ranging from 12 to 20 years.

Bloggers in Vietnam who have been at the forefront of exposing abuses by the state, including human rights violations, corruption, land grabbing and environmental issues have faced intimidation, threats and imprisonment.

Prominent blogger and entrepreneur, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, was sentenced to 16 years jail for “conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration in January 2010 while Hoang Duc Binh, a blogger and environmental activist, was sentenced to 14 years after being convicted on two separate charges of “resisting officers acting under their duty” and for “abusing freedoms and democratic rights”

In July 2017, Tran Thi Nga, a blogger and labour rights activist was convicted of “anti-state propaganda” and sentenced to 9 years’ imprisonment for sharing articles and videos online highlighting ongoing rights abuses tied to environmental crises and political corruption.

A draconian Cybersecurity Law, inspired by China’s, entered into force on 1 January 2019. This law tightens the government’s control of information and its ability to silence its online critics. Among other things, it allows the government to demand the removal, within 24 hours, of any posts that are deemed critical.

Why is the UPR process important for civil society?

The UPR process is open to all actors, not just states, which is why it is a great opportunity for civil society, and especially unregistered civil society groups, to get involved in the process by bringing in a perspective that is different from that of governments. It gives civil society an opportunity to highlight a state’s human rights record, as well as to provide recommendations to improve it.

Has Vietnamese civil society been able to participate in the UPR process? Has it encountered any challenges in doing so?

While the Vietnamese government held national consultations during the UPR process, it did not include independent and unregistered groups such as VOICE. This has been a challenge, because we haven’t had an open dialogue with the state.

In addition, reprisals are a big factor. Some HRDs who have been involved in the UPR process have faced difficulties upon returning home to Vietnam, including the confiscation of their passports and continuous surveillance and harassment. Reprisals are just another tactic that the government uses to stifle the growth of a civil society movement and punish civil society for peacefully raising its voice about the state’s failure to meet its human rights obligations.

What are some of civil society’s key recommendation to states participating in the upcoming review of Vietnam at the Human Rights Council?

Civil society is calling on states to urge Vietnam’s government to amend the Penal Code to ensure that ambiguous provisions relating to national security – notably articles 79 (109), 87 (116), 88 (117), 89 (118), 91 (121), 257 (330) and 258 (331) – are clearly defined or removed so they cannot be applied in an arbitrary manner to stifle legitimate and peaceful dissent and the freedom of expression.

We also want states to recommend that the government amend or repeal legislation specifically related to the freedoms of expression and information, and related to privacy and surveillance, in line with international standards such as articles 17, 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are particularly concerned about the Press Law, the Law on Publications and the Cybersecurity Law, as well as about Decree No. 72/2013/ND-CP on the management of internet services and information and Decree No.174/2013/ND-CP, which imposes penalties for the violation of post, telecommunication, information technology and radio regulations.

State representatives at the Human Rights Council should also call on Vietnam to ensure that civil society activists, HRDs, journalists and bloggers are provided with a safe and secure environment in which to carry out their work. They should also conduct impartial, thorough and effective investigations into all cases of attacks on and harassment and intimidation against them and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Finally, there should be recommendations to ensure the independent and effective investigation of and implementation of remedy for arbitrary detention and physical or mental abuse by the state, with special attention to the protection of HRDs. Specifically, the government of Vietnam should be urged to release, unconditionally and immediately, all HRDs, including journalists and bloggers, detained for exercising their fundamental rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, and drop all charges against them.

What would you like to see come out of the UPR review?

We hope that UN member states in the Human Rights Council will listen to civil society and our recommendations, and that a diverse range of civil society’s human rights concerns, including the rights of women, young people and LGBTQI people, and civil and political rights, will be addressed by strong recommendations – by recommendations that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. This will allow civil society groups and other stakeholders to monitor easily whether the government of Vietnam follows through with their implementation.

We would also like Vietnam to have more dialogue with unregistered and independent groups, to ensure there is a balanced representation of civil society in national dialogues for future reviews. This will strengthen the impact of the UPR process and improve the integrity of the mechanism.

What are you plans following the UPR review, and what support is needed from the international community and international civil society?

VOICE will raise awareness of the commitments made by Vietnam through translation and dissemination among the public, media, parliamentarians, embassies and civil society.

We will make sure to follow up on the recommendations made to Vietnam to ensure they are being followed through by holding regular stakeholder meetings, including with other civil society groups and embassies in Hanoi. We will continue to update the states that have made specific recommendations during advocacy meetings, to let them know whether progress has been made and urge them to put some additional pressure if it has not.

We would like the international community, including international civil society organisations, to keep up the pressure so the government of Vietnam follows through with the recommendations they have received, and to provide a platform for civil society groups and HRDs to raise awareness about the state’s progress or lack of progress in human rights.

Source from CIVICUS. VIETNAM: ‘We hope UN member states will listen to civil society’ .

#UPR
#VietnamUPR
#VietnamUPR2019

VOICE #GivingTuesday Story

Our story for #GivingTuesday 2018

Our goal for 2018 is to raise $650,000 to resettle 50 stateless Vietnamese refugees living in Thailand.

Some has been living there for more than 20 years, undocumented. Some has been hunted by Communist Vietnam.

Ho Thi Bich Khuong, a civil rights activist, fled to Bangkok in 2016. Her husband was “found dead”, she herself was arrested 3 times and served a total of 7 years in prison. Upon her release, police confiscated her house and shop, and barred her friends from giving her shelter. Her family was on the “attack-on-sight” list, her son almost died from a hit-and-run accident. Vietnam police made her life as unbearable as can be.

Her two children deserve a better life in Canada, so do 11 other families we are helping. They need your help, too.

The totally cost will be 650,000. $500,000 for income support (mandatory from Canadian government), and $150,000 for fees and paperwork.

We’ve held 14 fundraisers this year and raised over $250,000. That donation money came from the goodwill of thousands of Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese around the world. Unfortunately, it is only enough for 30 refugees. What will happen to the fate of the other 20? Who will go and who will stay? The answer is in your helping hands.

Help us achieve this goal. Help us bring them to Canada.

VOICE GivingTuesday Story

* Some pictures of Vietnamese refugees in Thailand:

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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

The heart-warming words of an 84 years old supporter

Letter to Trinh Hoi

Meaningful work is not easy. There are many terrible people in society. They are dirty and do not want anyone to look cleaner than them. They do not want anyone to become a lotus. They want to pull the lotus into the mud. But they are not able to succeed because the lotus will become a lotus! Around Trinh Hoi are several people who understand you, sympathize with you, admire your soul and great heart. If it wasn’t for you, who would help the suffering victims? I am one of the people who recognize your hard work. My check is very small compared to the amount VOICE needs, but it comes from the heart of a lady at 84 years old, with a small retirement (only 650 usd/month. I do not ask for SSI). I decided to cancel my trip to see family in Canada so I could send this money to VOICE, to encourage Trinh Hoi and the work done by VOICE. I wish Trinh Hoi and all of you to keep up your spirits.

Thu-gui-Trinh-Hoi_VIETNAM-VOICE

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SCREENING: WHEN MOTHER’S AWAY

VOICE Presents Documentary on Imprisoned Vietnamese Blogger Mother Mushroom

Bangkok, 27 June 2018 – Noting the one-year anniversary of her first trial, VOICE reiterates its call for the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally release citizen journalist, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, popularly known as Mother Mushroom, with a screening of When Mother’s Away, a moving portrait of Mother Mushroom and her family. Screening from 7:00PM at the FCCT.

When Mother’s Away is a personal portrait that follows the life of Mother Mushroom’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, solely taking care of her two young grandchildren, while they struggle to continue on their lives and support Mother Mushroom, after she is sent to prison. In its depiction of an ordinary family facing an extraordinary circumstance, the film explores the themes of family and motherhood. Following the screening, VOICE will lead a panel discussion on the film and situation in Vietnam.

On 29 June 2017, Mother Mushroom, 38, was handed a ten-year prison sentence under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, often wielded against those whose only crime has been to speak out for human rights. A blogger, known for her writing about police brutality, freedom of expression, land confiscation, and the Formosa environmental disaster, Mother Mushroom was held in detention following her arrest in October 2016 until hours before her June trial. At her appeal, November 30, family and friends assembled outside the courthouse and were attacked by thugs.

Since February 2018, Mother Mushroom has been held in a remote prison over 1000 kilometers from her home. Family visits are difficult and expensive. At her last visit, Mother Mushroom’s mother revealed her poor health. In May, Mother Mushroom underwent a 6-day hunger strike to protest against prison treatment. Her family’s request to send her basic medicine and the Holy Bible was denied by the prison authorities.

VOICE reiterates its calls for the Vietnamese authorities to comply with their international human rights obligations, and to immediately and unconditionally release Mother Mushroom, and urges the international community to intervene at the highest possible levels to support her immediate release.

VOICE continues to stand by Mother Mushroom’s call for all Vietnamese to continue fighting for their rights for a better and greater nation.

We each only have one life to live but if given the choice, I would still do it exactly the same… 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 – Mother Mushroom.

VOICE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization working in the field of promoting civil society development, advocacy for human rights, including refugee protection, and rule of law in Vietnam. Founded in 2007, VOICE’s mission is to empower individuals in order to envision a strong, independent, and vibrant civil society.