Music from the Mountains

It’s been a while since I had a music post up. I’ve been itching to write this post since an acquaintance shared this wonderful song with me last week. I was told how the people in the mountains of Vietnam, called the Hmong or Montagnards, are people with pure, good and simple ideals. They aren’t concerned with materialism or the complications of the busy city life, and so their lives are filled with love and faith. It’s something you can tell just by listening to this song.

However, it is true that they have been facing terrible religious persecution at the hands of the Vietnamese Communist government. The Montagnard people are devout Christians and Catholics, which in Vietnam makes them a target of the regime; even more so because their people sided with America during the Vietnam War.

Since they are a strong and admirable people, they refuse to renounce their faith despite all the violence, harassment, and arrests imposed on them by the communist government. They continue to practice and protect their religious beliefs and peacefully protest the injustice of the government. Such is the atrocity of communism, that it won’t even spare something as pure and good as these folks’ faith. May God have mercy on all the wretched communist souls. -_-”

If you’d like to know more about this, I recommend these articles:

Persecution of Montagnards in Vietnam

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Vietnam – Montagnards Harshly Persecuted

Here is the song. It is in Vietnamese, written and composed by Vietnamese Montagnard singer Y Moan (who was of our grandparents’ generation and passed away not long ago), and is called Giấc Mơ Cha-pi which translates to “Cha-pi Dream”. A Cha-pi is a musical instrument, like a Montagnard “harp,” I suppose. It’s a wooden cylinder with taut strings around the body of the cylinder. Well actually it’s not like a harp at all. You can just google “Chapi instrument” to see it. Perhaps I will translate the lyrics sometime, too.

Anyway, the song is quite beautiful. Hope you enjoy it.

I don’t own the video, all rights belong to the respective owner(s).
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HS.TS.VN

DEMONSTRATION IN PROTEST OF CHINA‘S VIOLATION OF VIETNAMESE TERRITORY

Sunday, June 19, 2011 – Outside the Chinese Consulate, downtown Toronto

A protest was held by members of the Vietnamese-Canadian community this past Sunday to support the ongoing protests inside Vietnam over China’s encroachment onto the Vietnamese Paracel and Spratly Islands, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. In the past several weeks, protests in Vietnam have been increasing in number and size, led predominantly by Vietnamese youths who organized the rallies via online forms of networking and communication such as Facebook. This movement comes at a critical time in Vietnam, when China’s pressure to overrun Vietnamese territory has become more persistent and violent by the day.

The purpose of the demonstration in Toronto was:

  • To protest and condemn Communist China’s invasion and claims over Vietnam’s territorial land and waters, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
  • To support the patriotic spirit of the Vietnamese youth and citizens who are actively protesting the wrongful actions of the Chinese communist government and the cowardly behaviour of the Vietnamese communist government, who are putting Vietnam’s territory at risk. 
  • To join hands with the Vietnamese people across the world to condemn both the Chinese and Vietnamese communist governments.

The turnout was great, showing the will of the Vietnamese refugee community to stand up for our homeland and showing our brothers and sisters overseas that we stand united with them in the movement to protect and improve the future of Vietnam.

Video footage shot by anh Vinh. Photos courtesy of bác Tuấn and PBC’s Jace Nguyễn.

Ottawa: Protest Against Communism

Sunday, April 17, 2011 – Ottawa, ON.

This past Sunday, the Chinese and Filipino communities and Vietnamese-Canadians from Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa, and other regions of Canada gathered in front of the Chinese and Vietnamese embassies in Ottawa to voice their protest against communism and its endless injustices and atrocities, and also to show our support that Vietnam might see a “Jasmine Revolution” of their own. A few hundred participants were present for the peaceful protest, wielding signs and banners that read “Human Rights for Vietnam,” “Freedom for Vietnam,” “Revolution Jasmine is Revolution Lotus,” and similar strong, positive messages in English, French, and Vietnamese. Megaphones amplified our strongest “weapon”: our voices.

Of course, many youth members of the community were in attendance that chilly Sunday morning, including members from DTNPBC Toronto and local Vietnamese Student Associations (VSA). At the end of the day, it was a another successful protest.

Look forward to more updates as Black April commemoration (April 30th, the 36th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon) approaches!

Thank you to our photographer Brian Nguyen.

The “Flame of Change” from Tunisia to… Vietnam?

Imagine living in a country where Freedom did not exist. Most of us can’t. Most of us live every moment of our lives in a Freedom that others have never known, but we take it for granted because, just like breathing, our right to live free belongs to us so naturally. We never think about it, and thus most of us never truly think about our brothers and sisters who are thirsting for the kind of Freedom that is so readily ours.

Now imagine living in a country where Justice did not exist, either. Imagine that not just your Freedom, but also your career and your home and your very livelihood have been stripped of you. And what’s more, there is nothing you can do about it but watch your life dwindle away because, in your country, the word of the government is LAW no matter how unjust or corrupt it clearly is.

And you look around you and see that all your countrymen quietly suffer just the same fate for no good reason, though beyond the borders of your country others are living where Freedom and Justice are never such an issue. Your voice is weak and easily drowned out by the oppressive government, yet nonetheless you wish with all the hurt in your heart that something could be done. And then you remember that actions speak louder than words

In that case, could dying for something be better than living for nothing? Do you believe you could have a louder voice in death than in life?

In Tunisia, Mohammed Bouazizi, a humble street vendor, committed suicide one morning in front of a government building by setting himself on fire after government officials publicly humiliated him, beat him, and confiscated his livelihood. Mohammed Bouazizi’s protest by self-immolation was tragic but subsequently inspirational, and certainly instrumental in setting off the revolution in many autocratic Middle-Eastern countries that followed. Since then there have been a handful of copycat suicides, all striving to spark the same “fire of change” in the hearts of their people and for the greater good of their nations.

Most recently in Vietnam, Phạm Thành Sơn, an engineer, ended his life in the same way after (according to online sources) the government demanded his family give up their home so that they could use that land for their personal gains. Some video footage captured Vietnamese police casually standing by and watching as the 31-year-old man apparently set himself ablaze in front of a government office in the city of Đà Nẵng, while the crowds of shocked people built up around the scene. Afterwards, authorities reported his death as an accident. His vehicle’s gas tank had exploded, they said. He had a mental illness, they said. But the communist government’s expertise in blurring the truth is already too well known…

What will this mean for Vietnam? Not to be cliché, but I guess only time will tell. Actions speak louder than words, and I believe that Phạm Thành Sơn’s actions have lit a candle in even the most reluctant hearts, if not yet a flame. I hope the Vietnamese people will be empowered to rise up for the Freedom, Justice, Democracy and Human rights they deserve.

Now is the time to act.

I for one am still utterly in awe that what keeps being described as “18 short days” was all it took to write a whole new page in the history of Egypt and forever liberate its people. I’m sure their victory will be a story for Egyptians to pass on for generations to come. Sort of like how South Vietnamese parents and grandparents tell my generation about their harrowing journeys to escape the clutches of communist persecution after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. No doubt their words are an inspiration to us, but I don’t want those to be the only stories we have… I want to be able to tell my children or grandchildren about how Vietnam was able to rise up against corruption and injustice, and with their own strength take back their Freedom and their rights, just like the people of Egypt have.

And yes, I believe that Mohammed Bouazizi, Phạm Thành Sơn, and all those who have died in the name of Freedom will rise out of the flames–to live in the hearts and triumphant cries of the people.

Edit: Visit Global Voices for a more detailed and accurate report of Phạm Thành Sơn’s story (in English, by VT representative).

Thank you to the online writers and journalists who shared the news story.

“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.

04-09-2010 Dem Ca Nhac ‘Tieng Hat Vi Nguoi Ngheo’

Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Toronto ON – September 04, 2010: Dem Ca Nhac Tieng Hat Vi Nguoi Ngheo

At the beginning of September, my friends and I had the honour to co-MC a special evening of faith, music, and charity. The Vietnamese Catholic community gathered during the visit of Father Nguyen Tan Sang (Cha Sang), a Vietnamese priest with a warm heart and a golden voice, who resides in Vietnam but occasionally travels to major cities during his time off to share his faith and organize charity events for the poor in Vietnam. His charity work helps orphans, the blind and sick, the elderly without caregivers, and the Vietnamese Montagnards among others, who receive little help or attention in communist countries like Vietnam. Bless his heart! 🙂

Well-known Vietnamese guest singers such as Son Ca and Giao Linh also lent their wonderful voices to the cause (though personally I prefer the local singers). A great amount was raised from the auction of two beautiful portraits alone. All in all, it was a very successful charity event thanks to the generosity of the community.

Once again, I leave you with some photos of the event. Photographer: Papa!

Enjoy!

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!

Back after an unexpected absence

My absence was uncalled for. I didn’t know the summer term would have me so preoccupied. That, and I can be naturally quite lazy. But anyway, I’m back!

I went to Orange County in California for my cousin’s wedding during the last week of June. It was spectacular, unfortunately I had to miss the G20 protest which was on the same day as the wedding: June 26th, 2010. I stayed up to date with Toronto news while over there but I still wish I could have been in two places at one time. My friend posted a blog about his experience at the G20 protest that day, so if you’d like, you can head on over to his WordPress and read his very insightful thoughts: Que Huong Meets The Great White North. He also attended the uNAVSA conference in Washington D.C. Find him under the LINKS section to the left of my page.

PBC camping was last week — Trai An Tinh. I loved it, just completely loved it. It was the perfect weekend of bonding and appreciation (and horribly good mosquito bites). Didn’t shower while I was there, though. Haha! However, I did wash my hair in a sink, with the encouragement of our awesome VP Internal. Heehee. 🙂 I hope my younger brother and little cousin who came along have been inspired to get involved now. They are both such bright young minds.

PBC will be involved in an annual charity dinner in September, as well. It is to raise money for the families of Freedom Fighters in Vietnam, who constantly face the communist government’s injustice while advocating for humans rights and democracy within the country. I’m excited for that, but I hope we won’t get seated next to the speakers again as usual. 😛

My friends and I have gotten tickets to a once in a lifetime concert (well, for us, anyway)… X-JAPAN IN TORONTO!!! I freaked out after hearing about it and now we’ve got second row seats to the show on October 7th at Massey Hall. My friend woke up early to get those seats on the first day. I bow down to him, haha. Talk about a dream come true. I honestly never thought I’d get to see the grandfathers of J-rock, live on stage, ever in my lifetime. 😀

After that I also hope to hear the Dalai Lama’s public talk on October 22nd at the Rogers Centre. He will be talking about “Human Approaches to World Peace” and it’s always been my dream to meet him in person. He is one truly amazing and admirable soul. If you’d like to learn more about His Holiness’ visit to Toronto, see this site:

http://www.dalailamatoronto2010.org/

Time to get a steady job because I have a feeling I’m going to be totally broke by the start of the Fall term. 😦

Like my collection of JRR Tolkien novels, my list of Life Plans is ever growing. And it’s so nice to have one, too. I used to think I wanted to just settle down early after graduating, and I held a rather old-fashioned outlook on life. But after I started the list, I realized I could never go through with that because of all the things I truly want to experience and accomplish before becoming “tied down” to anything. I often find myself in conflict over the future. It really does feel like there’s so little time.

It’s fast approaching… can’t wait for SECOND YEAR!!!

I leave you with some PBC appreciation camp photos (my Papa didn’t take many). Good night!

PBC Trai An Tinh photos

In Ottawa for Asian Heritage Month

Two Sundays ago, literally hours after the fundraising dinner mentioned in the previous post ended, we were on a 4-hour road trip from Toronto to Ottawa! Whooo! Actually we weren’t that energetic at the time. On Sunday May 30, 2010, Ontario’s Vietnamese Canadian community celebrated Asian Heritage Month in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

We held a parade, and a short ceremony with some văn nghê,̣ too. It was a nice afternoon. 🙂 Somehow my friend and I ended up parading in traditional clothing. Yes, totally unexpected… haha. 😛

You can read more about the Vietnamese Boat People Museum here:

http://vietboatpeoplemuseum.ca/

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Memorial to Victims of Totalitarian Communism

I tend to update late. I’ve been busy studying for a calculus test all week!

Saturday, May 29, 2010 – Downtown Toronto:

The Vietnamese community held a fundraising dinner on the evening of May 29th to help contribute to the building of the Memorial to Victims of Totalitarian Communism, a monument which will be built in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, in the coming years. This project is the goal a Canadian organization called Tribute to Liberty (TTL).

As I have class in 1 hour (sighs), I will have to make this quick. This is a very important and meaningful project to millions of people across the globe, and not just to countless victims of communism. If you would like to learn more about this project and TTL, the truth and atrocities behind communism, or how you can contribute to building the memorial by donating, please visit this website:

http://www.tributetoliberty.ca/

Buy a brick! Please help us remember the past and work hard towards a free and peaceful future in our homeland. 🙂

I had the privilege to help MC and sing at the fundraising dinner. It was a successful event many thanks to the Ban Tổ Chức (̣organizers), DTNPBC, all the honourable guests, and of course everyone who came out to support the cause. I leave you with some photos from that evening… 😀