By Vu Quoc Ngu (Defend The Defenders)
Dr. Pham Chi Dung
Three Vietnamese civil societies named the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPOC), the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights (VNWHR) and the Association for Victims of Injustice held a meeting in Saigon-based Lien Tri Pagoda on March 14’s afternoon.
A number of local activists participated in the meeting: journalists Truong Minh Duc and Pham Chi Dung, Buddhist monk Thich Khong Tanh, Medical doctor Nguyen Dan Que, former political prisoner Pham Van Hai, human rights activists Chau Van Thi, Huynh Trong Hieu, Nguyen Ngoc Ha, Nguyen Thanh Phong, Nguyen Xuan Ngu and Tran Thi Hai.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Pham Chi Dung said “The meeting is historic moment for Vietnam’s civil society because it is for the first time numerous civil societies held a meeting to seek for one common goal: better Vietnam.”
It is a good moment for building a movement for civil society where civil societies cooperate to develop further, he noted.
Vietnamese women play a very large role in modern society so their seeking for human rights and gender equality should be encouraged, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que noted.
He also praised the connection of former political prisoners to fight for better Vietnam, that has no prisoners of conscience.
Huynh Kim Luong, a member of the Association for Victims of Injustice expressed his opinion: In the old time, communists had nothing except their hats and rubber sandals when they came out from a jungle. Southerners shared their houses and land with them, supporting them to defeat the Saigon regime. After reunification, we have nothing while the communists possess everything. They went against the willingness of their leader Ho Chi Minh, who said “Nothing more valuable than freedom and liberty.”
The freedom and liberty brought by communist is that landless farmers to stay overnight on a street, he said. We are old and powerless, but we will fight for real democracy and human rights, he added.
On the occasion, the FVPOC and the VNWHR presented two gifts worth VND10 million to Ms. Nguyen Thi Anh Nguyet and Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuyen, two prisoners from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho. The two women are serving their three-year and 30-month sentences, respectively, on charges of conducting activities causing public disorder when they peacefully protested before Can Tho City’s Municipal building to ask for adequate compensation for their land taken by the city for infrastructure development.
On their behalf, Pham Van Co, husband of Ms. Nguyet and Truong Van Thanh, husband of Ms. Tuyen, received the gifts.
Buddhist monk Thich Khong Tanh, on behalf of the FVPOC, delivered a VND5 million gift to former political prisoner Nguyen Ngoc Ha.