The “Crime” of Patriotism

In the Vietnamese activist community, surely we all know of and admire Viet Khang (Vo Minh Tri), the Vietnamese singer-songwriter who has been imprisoned since December of 2011 for writing passionate and patriotic songs of pure love for his country–songs which encouraged his people to stand up and defend their country from the Chinese invasion of Vietnam, and subtly denounced the communist governments of Vietnam and China for their heartlessness and dealing off Vietnamese lands such as our historic islands Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

This April 30th, which marks the 37th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, I am sure the Vietnamese diaspora all around the world will be thinking of Viet Khang and his fellow detained activists who, like all Vietnamese citizens, are suffering at the hands of the communist government. We will honour their determination, their courage, and their profound sense of justice and duty towards their homeland. We will show them our unwavering support. There is no crime in loving your country, in wishing to protect and preserve its existence, in fighting for the justice, freedom and human rights that its people have long been denied.

Viet Nam Toi Dau – Viet Khang

Minh-Thùy

The value of human life part I

Perhaps it is fitting that today, Friday April 6, 2012 to all, and Good Friday to some, that the thought of human life and its value would cross my mind on a day that is closely associated with death, the death of Christ on the Cross. I think this is a perfect opportunity to reflect on human life, as we trace back in reverse the cycle, from death to birth.

How is the story of humanity connected to the story of life? How are we all inter-connected to each other? Why do we contemplate about the value of human life? Does human life have value?

“1. In both East and West, we may trace a journey which has led humanity down the centuries to meet and engage truth more and more deeply. It is a journey which has unfolded—as it must—within the horizon of personal self-consciousness: the more human beings know reality and the world, the more they know themselves in their uniqueness, with the question of the meaning of things and of their very existence becoming ever more pressing. This is why all that is the object of our knowledge becomes a part of our life. The admonition Know yourself was carved on the temple portal at Delphi, as testimony to a basic truth to be adopted as a minimal norm by those who seek to set themselves apart from the rest of creation as “human beings”, that is as those who “know themselves”.” (Pope John Paul II, Fides et ratio, 1998).

The above passage is from the late Pope John Paul II’s introduction in his Encyclical Fides et ratio (Faith and Reason). All forms of life have a beginning and an end, birth and death, but it is what happens between these two events that define the uniqueness of each form of life.  For human beings, perhaps our uniqueness is defined by our quest to “know ourselves”. But during our journey of discovering ourselves, do we become more in tune with our fellow human beings, or do we become more enclosed and fail to recognize our common humanity? The fact that some of us are trying to defend and promote justice and human rights across the globe, clearly demonstrates that there are some places in this world where human life has little value.

Many who have been searching for true human values have come to recognize that to be able to live fully as human beings, in its highest form, in its most dignified state, there are certain fundamental basic rights and freedoms that one should have full access to. These include but are not limited to the freedom to practise openly one’s religion, to assemble openly with others for a common cause, and to have a difference of opinion from a ruling party. Many who have come to this conclusion have seen themselves end up in places of darkness. But in these dark places, they have become beacons of hope, they have become the embers of a fire that refuses to die out.

If we are guaranteed death, and suffering and despair, then we are also assured of birth, and renewal and hope.

Where ever there is despair, we shall find new hope. Where ever there is death, we shall find new life. And where ever there is an end, we shall find a new beginning. Hope gives value to human life.

– Anh Nhật

TUOI TRE VIET NAM: PHAI LEN TIENG

Below is an infomercial about the Speak Up Now! Campaign to help raise awareness about the plight of the 15 youth activists unjustly detained in Vietnam. These innocent young men and women, all of them religious and human rights activists in the Vietnamese Catholic community, were arbitrarily arrested and detained without any outside contact and the whereabouts of some remain unknown.

As of late, these arrests have become more and more like abductions–deftly executed and violent in nature, without any notification or explanation to the families of the detainees. But these youths are educated, faithful, and courageous individuals who are full of potential and love for their country and for justice. Most of them are only in their 20’s & 30’s, just like me, and probably just like you.

We cannot let this injustice go on. And yet, the plight of these activists is not getting enough media attention, nor enough awareness from the rest of the world… There must be something we can do to help these people; there must be some way we can show them our support, and that we are thinking of them…

You can help by:
1. Submitting a letter of support for the youths to phailentieng@lenduong.net. View the letters at http://phailentieng.lenduong.net/

2. Submitting a 30-second video recording of yourself (individual or in a group) saying why/how you are speaking up for the youths. This will be compiled to create a compilation of youth voices from around the world, standing in solidarity with the youths being detained in Vietnam. (Wear purple!)

We need your voice. Please help us stand up for Human Rights and for Justice.

SPEAK UP NOW!

Minh-Thùy

Bai Tho Ngo Nghich – Phan Van Hung

I just really wanted to have some more posts under the Music category, since I’ve been neglecting it for a while. Phan Văn Hưng is an amazing composer, poet, lyricist, and performer. He resides in Australia, writing and singing mostly folk music about Freedom, suffering, hope, and compassion that I can only assume is based on his own experiences after the Fall of Saigon. One of his pieces is called Hai Mươi Năm or 20 Years which he wrote in commemoration, 20 years after the Fall. His music ranges from touching to epic and the lyrics really stir the activist in you.

Bài Thơ Ngỗ Nghịch is my favourite Phan Văn Hưng song and I have no idea why I haven’t shared any of his music until now. Totally slipped my mind even when I listen to these beautiful songs all the time. The title roughly translates to Poem of Dissent. You’ll see what I mean by ‘touching’ and ‘epic.’

Enjoy!

I have no affiliation with the music or artist.

“1 Million Against 79” Campaign. Free Them NOW!

Millions around the globe are once again expressing their outrage after the recent unlawful arrests of 4 more democracy activists inside Viet Nam. Dozens have long been arrested by the Vietnamese communist government for simply expressing to the public their pro-democratic thoughts and opinions. They boldly spoke out against the corruption, and refused to cower under the oppression.

These admirable activists have been and are being detained without just cause or reason, and many were sentenced under Article 79 of the Penal Code in Vietnam, which carries a maximum penalty of capital punishment. Under article 79, the communist government can order the arrest of just about anyone with whom they are displeased or anyone they fear may threaten their state of absolute control in any way… which, I might add, is just what those shameless cowards would do.

Below is a link to the details of Article 79:

Penal Code: Article 79

We hold our activists in high esteem and give them our full support, but I realize that before being activists they are mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, husbands and wives… and there is no humanity in the government which makes them and their families suffer for their righteous beliefs and truthful opinions.

The following link comes from the Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform Party) website, and is a section focusing on news of and from the detainees and their families:

Viet Tan: Free Them Now!

Clearly, we cannot tolerate this endless chain of injustice and corruption. Even now, democracy activists in Vietnam are fearlessly defending the rights of their country and people. Therefore we who have all the Freedom we could want should do no less to support them.

How can YOU easily contribute, wherever you may be?

1. If you own a Facebook account, you can contribute to the cause by donating your status and changing your profile picture to one of the images shown above. Let the world know that you and millions of others are against Article 79.

2. You might also want to make a home video to post on the world wide web, expressing your support for the cause and concluding with the phrase, “I am 1 of 1 million against 79.” Below I’ve linked my brief video response as an example, which I’ve posted on Facebook (excuse the poor quality).

3. Visit the Viet Tan website above and learn the truth, then follow the steps under the “What You Can Do” section. Start by signing the petition! And then forward it to your family and friends.

http://www.facebook.com/v/445365303492

Thank you for reading. You know what to do! 😀

The websites and pictures belong to their respective owners. Many thanks to them for their hard work.

18-09-2010 Fundraising for Democracy Activists in Vietnam

September 18, 2010: Fundraising for Democracy Activists in Vietnam – Tiệc Gây Qũy Yểm Trợ Phong Trào Dân Chủ Cho Việt Nam

Last Saturday evening at the Royal Dragon Restaurant in Mississauga, our Vietnamese-Canadian community came together to organize and support a charity dinner in order to raise funds for democracy activists in Vietnam. These righteous, brave, and outspoken activists have been and continue to play a crucial part in supporting the movement for freedom, democracy, and human rights in Vietnam, all of which are virtually non-existent and ever overshadowed by the corrupt communist government and their unjust ideals. From where we are, in any way possible, we must give them our full support!

We also had honoured guests who made the trip from the United States to contribute their support. Mr. Đỗ Thành Công, a former political prisoner and democracy activist who was unjustly imprisoned by the Vietnamese communist government, was one such guest in attendance at the charity. He gave a rousing powerpoint presentation detailing his knowledge of critical issues that Vietnam is and will soon be facing due to the incompetence and corruption in the country and especially within the governing party. Mr. Đỗ Thành Công and three of his party members were arrested in August of 2006. He himself was arrested and subsequently deported. Lê Nguyên Sang, a member of the People’s Democratic Party of Vietnam (Đảng Dân Chủ Nhân Dân) served 4 years in prison for violating article 88 of the criminal code, which forbids “conducting propaganda against the state.” They were released recently in 2009 and 2010. However, the irony is that these prisoners have never actually posed a direct threat; they simply spoke aloud their mind, and their words did not agree with the government–hence they were imprisoned without just reason or cause.

Concern is ever growing. The amount of jail sentences for political prisoners in Vietnam totals to about 187 years, and that is only from what we do know at this point. Dozens of independent bloggers and democracy activists like Ms. Phạm Thanh Nghiên, Ms. Trần Khải Thanh Thủy, and Ms. Lê Thị Công Nhân, just to name a few well-known activists, have been arrested (in some cases also beaten) in Vietnam and no doubt we will see more of such injustice to come if we sit idly and do nothing to stop it.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese government has been relying on communist China for “protection,” yielding its lands to the threatening and rising superpower to the North–lands such as Hòang Sa and Trường Sa, Vietnam’s Paracel and Spratly Islands, an act that has caused an uproar from Vietnamese around the globe and even within the usually suppressed country. The Vietnam-China border continues to move, wherein China expands their territory while Vietnam is losing more land. By buying the “protection” of a similarly communistic country, the Vietnamese communist party ensures that they will remain in absolute power. Vietnam has proudly upheld its own for thousands of years, and to let this happen is not only an outrage, but I feel like it is a tragedy, as well.

I managed to learn a lot on Saturday between the stress of performing and the awesome fun we had dancing. I couldn’t catch all of Mr. Đỗ Thành Công’s presentation, though he covered a lot of very serious and note-worthy aspects and what I do remember I have already written about here. I am so glad to have the opportunity to not only attend but also be of help to the organizers. After every successful event, I get that awesome feeling of gratefulness that I am able to be a part of an amazing community and know the most inspiring people whom I love enough to call family. 😀

P.S. Check out the links I’ve put up on the left of my page, too. I just added the link to “VietAm Review.” The blog is in English and contains some very interesting politically-charged articles. 🙂

Thanks for reading!