Anh Ba Sam, Mother Mushroom, Brotherhood for Democracy Honored with 2017 Vietnam Human Rights Award

By Defend the Defenders, November 12, 2017

Prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (penname Anh Ba Sam), human rights activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Mother Mushroom), Protestant pastor Y Tich and the Brotherhood for Democracy have been chosen as the winners of the 2017 Vietnam Human Rights Award (VNHRA), the prestigious price from the Vietnam Human Rights Network (VNHRN).

The three individuals and the online pro-democracy group were selected from 14 nominations this year, the VNHRN said at a press conference in Little Saigon, California on November 10.

The prizes will be handed over to the recipients or their representatives at a ceremony on December 10 on the occasion of the 69th Human Rights Day and the 20th anniversary of the VNHRN.

Mr. Vinh founded the news website Anh Ba Sam, the most popular news channel for Vietnamese activists. He was arrested in 2014 and later sentenced to five years in prison on accusation of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code (for more information about Mr. Vinh: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/category/nguyen-huu-vinh-anh-ba-sam/)

Ms. Quynh, prominent human rights defender already awarded with 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year from the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, was arrested on October 10, 2016 on charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. In June, she was sentenced to ten years in prison (for more information about Ms. Quynh: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2017/07/12/urgent-action-ten-years-in-prison-for-human-rights-defender-nguyen-ngoc-nhu-quynh/)

Pastor Y Tich, born in 1960 in A Luk village in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, is an activist fighting for land ownership and the right for freedom of religion for ethnic minorities in the region. In 2007, he was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison. In 2013, he was detained again and given to 12 years in prison for his human rights activities. Currently, he is held in An Phuoc prison in the southern province of Binh Duong.

The Brotherhood for Democracy is an online group calling for human rights promotion and multi-party democracy, established by prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and other activists. Currently, the organization is the main target of the ongoing crackdown of the Vietnamese communist government, with nine key members arrested and charged with subversion under Article 79 of the Penal Code namely Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Van Tuc, Nguyen Trung Truc, Tran Thi Xuan and Dao Quang Thuc. Co-founder Nguyen Bac Truyen, who left the organization, was also detained and charged with the same allegation.

The VNHRA was founded in 2002 with the purpose of providing recognition to the outstanding works in the field of human rights in Vietnam. It is also an opportunity to express solidarity with and support for those involved in the relentless fighting for basic rights and justice for Vietnamese people.

Since its establishment, the VNHRA has been presented to a number of human rights activists in Vietnam, including Most Ven. Thich Quang Do, Rev. Nguyen Van Ly (2002); Mr. Nguyen Vu Binh, Mr. Le Chi Quang, Dr. Pham Hong Son, Mr. Nguyen Khac Toan (2003); Mr. Pham Que Duong, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que (2004); Mr. Le Quang Liem, Father Phan Van Loi, Ven. Thich Tue Sy (2005); Mr. Do Nam Hai, Mr. Nguyen Chinh Ket, Mr. Hoang Minh Chinh (2006); Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, Lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan (2007); Ven. Thich Thien Minh, Blogger Dieu Cay Nguyen Van Hai, Tu Do Ngon Luan Magazine (2008); Pastor Nguyen cong Chinh, Writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy (2009); Journalist Truong Minh Duc, Mr. Doan Huy Chuong (2010); Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu, Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh (2011); Blogger Ta Phong Tan, Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien, Ms. Huynh Thuc Vy (2012), Mr. Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, Lawyer Le Quoc Quan, and Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc (2013); the Vietnam Redemptorist Province, Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen, Musicians Tran Vu Anh Binh and Viet Khang (2014): Most Ven. Thich Khong Tanh, Mrs. Ho Thi Bich Khuong, and Mrs. Bui Thi Minh Hang (2015); The Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network, Lawyer Vo An Don, and two activists for victimes of injustice Ms. Tran Ngoc Anh and Ms. Can Thi Theu (2016).

Nominees of the prize must be an individual currently living or a non-governmental organization still active in Vietnam; involved in non-violent works for the promotion and protection of Vietnamese people’s human rights; and their works have generated positive influence inside and outside of Vietnam.