VIETNAMESE blogger Pham Thanh Nghien has been named one of five finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, an award recognising activists who risk their lives to benefit their communities.
Nghien was imprisoned in 2010 for four years as a result of her work publicising violations against and defending the rights of relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols.
She is currently under house arrest due to a three year probation period under the charge of conducting propaganda against the state.
Despite her probation, Nghien continues to spearhead numerous human rights campaigns and also founded the Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network.
In the course of her work, Nghien has endured numerous tribulations, including physical attacks, being blocked from attending medical appointments and having her home raided. Despite it all, she continues to champion human rights issues in Vietnam.
“These five defenders demonstrate the tenacity and will to persist in the face of severe, often life-threatening risks,” said Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders.
The recipient of the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk will be announced at a ceremony at Dublin’s City Hall this Friday.
Nghien’s case is not unique in Vietnam, where those critical of the government are often arrested and abused.
Earlier this month, Vietnamese environmental rights defender Hoang Duc Binh was arrested for allegedly “abusing democratic freedoms” after he organised a protest to mark a year since Taiwanese steel giant Formosa caused a major environmental disaster.
Frontline Defenders claim that Hoang Duc Binh was violently dragged from his car and arrested in the northern province of Nghe An, on the anniversary of a toxic waste spill from the Formosa plant.
The Vietnamese government is charging him with “resisting persons in the performance of their duties” and “abusing democratic freedoms.”