Blogger Pham Thanh Nghien among Five Finalists for 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk

By Defend the Defenders, March 31, 2017

The Dublin-based organization Front Line Defenders has selected Vietnamese blogger Pham Thanh Nghien as one of its five final contenders for its Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk this year, the human rights advocacy group announced on its website.

Blogger Pham Thanh Nghien worked to raise awareness of the violations committed against, and to defend the rights of, relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols. In 2008, she was arrested and later sentenced to four years in prison on charges of “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Following her release, she was kept under house arrest, during which time she spearheaded numerous human rights campaigns and co-founded the renowned Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network.

She has been constantly harassed since. The local police in Haiphong city raided her home, blocked her from attending medical appointments, and refused to deliver her a marriage certificate.

Nghien has also survived numerous physical assaults aimed at stopping her brave, peaceful work uncovering and raising awareness about human rights violations in Vietnam.

The annual Front Line Defenders’ Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honor the work of human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, courageously make outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.

The award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender’s work, thus contributing to the award recipient’s personal security, and a cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to the Award recipient and his/her organization in an effort to support the continuation of their important work.

“These five defenders demonstrate the tenacity and will to persist in the face of severe, often life-threatening risks,” Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders, said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Others finalists are Crimean Tatar human rights lawyer Emil Kurbedinov; land and environmental activist Nonhle Mbuthuma from South Africa; imprisoned human rights activist Abdulhakim Al Fadhli from Kuwait; and human rights defender Francisca Ramírez Torres from Nicaragua.

Additional reading: Three land rights activists named as award finalists as fight for land escalates