A new series of video interviews sheds light on the perspectives and struggles of women involved in human rights activism in Vietnam.
The 88 Project, an organization supporting freedom of expression in Vietnam, released the first video of an ongoing series of interviews with female activists in Vietnam. In the first interview with Pham Doan Trang, a dissident journalist and political activist, she discusses the challenges women face as bloggers and human rights activists:
In general, Vietnamese women are not respected. Not just in democratic activism but in all areas. In democratic activism, female activists are at a disadvantage because they are attacked just as much as male activists. They are beaten and assaulted. The work they do is no less than that of their male counterparts. But what they often get from others is pity. I don’t think that’s respect.
She also recounts an incident of police brutality that resulted in permanent injuries to both of her legs.
During a protest to protect trees and the environment in Ha Noi, they attacked me and broke both my legs.
Other women, including social activist and blogger Tran Thi Nga, who is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence, were also seriously injured following physical assaults, often carried out by hired men.
Tran Thi Nga’s attack was documented and posted on Youtube along with recordings of her being taken to a hospital accompanied by her two young children.
According to family reports, Tran Thi Nga suffered physical and psychological harassment after his arrest, and received death threats and beatings from a cellmate.
Despite the challenges faced by women human rights defenders inside and outside of prison, Pham Doan Trang says there can be a higher purpose when women are involved in political activism.
In a dictatorship, no one has freedom, but especially for women, their lack of freedom is multiplied many times over men. Because women are not only political victims of the regime, but they are also victims of gender inequality and self-restraint. Women hold themselves back thinking that they are not suitable for a political career. Politics is for men.
We should think that our fight is not only against dictatorship or to liberate Vietnam from dictatorship. It is also a fight to free ourselves from the ideological constraints of the prejudices that we impose on ourselves until today.
According to the Project 88 database, there are currently more than 200 prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, more than 30 of whom identify as women.
Bloggers and journalists are frequently arrested and charged for “activities aimed at overthrowing the state” or “anti-state propaganda”. According to Amnesty International, the Vietnamese government has carried out an increasing crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful activism in recent years.
Nguyen Dang Minh Man, a photojournalist and woman who has served the longest prison sentence so far, is expected to be released in early August.
With more female activists in Vietnam, Pham Doan Trang emphasizes the potential of empowered women in Vietnamese society.
If women have freedom, they can develop deeply, and they will see that life is so beautiful, that there are many options, many opportunities, many things that they can do, discover and develop. , to contribute to the development of society and humanity.
Watch the interview: