Le Thi Cong Nhan,

A daughter of Ladies Trieu and Trung

 

                     Tran Binh Nam

 

For more than a year, a young Vietnamese woman by the name of Le Thi Cong Nhan has taken a spotlight on the political stage and brought national and international public opinion to a boiling point. She stated that Vietnam was under the rule of a dictatorial government, and she was taking the responsibility as a citizen to fight for her own human rights and those of 83 million compatriots.

LthicnPic1Le followed the long tradition of pride and fierce independence of Vietnamese women such as Sisters Trieu Au, Trung Trac, Trung Nhi, and recently Nguyen Thi Giang, Nguyen Thi Bac … She glorified the Vietnamese women who steadfastly fight beside men to liberate the homeland from an oppressive regime that is eroding national civilization and ethics, oblivious to the rapid progress of the world toward democracy and respect of human rights.

Le Thi Cong Nhan was born on July 20 1979 in West Go Cong, a city of the Tien Giang province about 100 km south of Saigon. At tender age, she moved to Hanoi with her mother Ms. Tran Thi Le and her godfather Prof. Hoang Phuong.

Tien Giang province sits on the left bank of the river by the same name that branches from the Mekong bifurcation and ends in the sea. The land is famous for its daughters who normally devote their life to the family, but wouldn’t think twice when a total sacrifice including death is expected for the sake of love, whether for their man or for their country.

Le Thi Cong Nhan belongs to a family of tradition. Her mother educated the children and instilled in them a solid judgment of right and wrong, along with a deep sense of national awareness.

She was 7 in 1986 when the Vietnamese Communist Party decided to đổi mới in order to survive the storms that followed the changes in the Soviet world. People enjoyed a certain relaxation, but she still saw the persistence of communist roots in the regime, particularly in the absence of democracy and complete lack of respect for human rights.

For Le, the most important human right censured by the communist is the freedom of speech. Without this fundamental right, national institutions would be merely sand castles. She started with the perception that democracy as practiced worldwide demanded that the foundation of society be clearly defined by written legal documents, which everyone from the lowly citizen to those in power must abide by.

After high school, Le enrolled in the Hanoi Law School. She obtained her law degree in 2001, with a specialization in International Law and Economics. In 2003, after a two year clerkship, she became a fully fledged attorney of the Hanoi Bar, and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. She chose to live and conducted her fight in Hanoi, because the capital was the cradle of Vietnamese culture and civilization.

She has taken the non violent road, and has placed herself and her fight within the existing legal framework. She has been well aware that the country’s legal system was merely a collection of documents propped up by the Party for a democratic appearance, while the communists monopolize the power to arbitrarily interpret and apply the law as they see fit. This attitude pervades the communist leadership at all levels, from the lowly hamlet to the province and finally to the central government. The Congress was reduced to a rubberstamp to enact legal articles a priori decided by the Politburo. Le’s strategy was to interpret the rhetoric communist constitution according to the face value of its pseudo democratic wording, hoping her non violent fight will be monitored by the Vietnamese people and the world community. She worked at the Thien An law firm that belonged to Nguyen Van Dai, Esq. who totally shared her ideal and conviction.

In August 2006, she joined The Bloc 8406 (1), and served as spokeswoman for Viet Nam Progression Party (Thang Tien Viet Nam Party) an open political party. In October 2006, she joined the Alliance for Democracy and Human Rights for Vietnam, an organization of people from inside Vietnam and overseas. She did not fear the heavy huddles and risks ahead of her, being convinced of her struggle being transparent and based on justice and reason.

The Communist Party began by threatening her with lengthy and repetitive interrogations. But she firmly stated her opinion not only in the interrogation room, but also by open long distance telephone from Hanoi to overseas compatriots.

She said (2):

I am the last of the four members of the Viet Nam Progression Party officially interrogated by the police since the lunar New Year, and I cannot guess what will concretely happen to me. But I am confirming with all my conscience, responsibility, and feeling for my country and my people, that I’ll fight to the end, even when I’ll be the only one remaining to do so, in order to reclaim my own human rights, and the human rights and democracy of the Vietnamese People. And the Vietnamese Communist shall not expect anything of a compromise nature from me, not mentioning surrender from my part. I don’t intend to provoke anyone, but if the Vietnamese Communist decided to apply criminal measures in treading on the people’s human rights, and intended to continue plunging the homeland in political darkness, economic poverty, cultural atavism until the days of our children and grand children as well as of their owns, then they will have to use whatever measures they got available. My family is prepared for the bad situation that I would be indicted and metered out prison terms. But let it be with no doubt left, even that could not be the worst eventuality.

December 2006, with Nguyen Van Dai, Esq., she organized a seminar on the social and political situation of Vietnam at the Thien An law firm. The Vietnamese communist considered the open seminar a disguised training camp for elements adverse to the Party. They indicted her and Nguyen Van Dai, Esq. for propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, citing article 88 of the criminal code. On May 11, 2007 the Vietnamese communist perfunctory kangaroo trial sentenced Le to 4 years of prison and 3 years of close supervision (whereas Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to 5 years of prison and 4 years of close supervision). Lower Court Judge Nguyen Huu Chinh based his sentences on the December 2006 seminar, considered as evidence for anti-government propaganda and defamation of President Ho.

CongNhan1Eng.gifLe appealed the verdict, along with her colleague Dai and another kangaroo trial took place November 27, 2007 at the Hanoi Supreme Appeals Court. In spite of strongly disapproving international opinion, and pressure from different organizations for democracy and human rights, and particularly of the lawyers’ eloquent argument that their clients did not commit the crime of propaganda against the nation, whether under Vietnamese or International law (3), the state prosecutor went on acting deaf and concluded that the defendants were guilty as charged, but would be granted suspended sentences if they confessed to their crime.

Both defendants turned down the offer. Le said: “What I did doesn’t violate the constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and I always support any non violent fight for democracy”. Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Dai said: "I’m not guilty, I only voice my opinion, and my opinion differs from that of the Vietnamese Communist Party”.

LethicnPic3Judge Nguyen Minh Man, Vice Chairman of the People Supreme Court appointed to preside over the trial, made the bench decision of sentencing Nguyen Van Dai to 4 years of prison with 4 years of close supervision, and Le Thi Cong Nhan to 3 years of prison with 3 years of close supervision (4).

After the verdict, Le calmly said that the lower court as well as the appeals court is meaningless to her. Given the country having neither democracy nor basic human rights, her release even today would only amount to a transfer from a small prison to a larger one. She accepted the prison terms in that context.

Le Thi Cong Nhan lost her freedom in fighting an oppressive muscular regime, but she intended this as her share with the people of Vietnam in the loss of freedom. From mid 2006 until the trial on November 27, 2007 her fight is the fight between good and evil, right and wrong, democracy and dictatorship. The blood of heroic Sisters Trieu and Trung circulating in her veins, Le symbolized the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese woman, and to a larger extent of all Vietnamese.

Her long and perseverant struggle not only encourages fighters for democracy and human rights in Vietnam, but also inspires anyone in the world currently toiling for a fairer society.

Le lives up to the expectation of a very daughter of the homeland. She enters our people’s history by the main gate. Whereas she is under incarceration, the strength of her mind nevertheless won over the communist oppressive machine, by earning her the world admiration.

Continued pressure by international associations for democracy and persistent demand for justice by the majority of the Vietnamese in the homeland and overseas will soon force the Vietnamese Communist to release her before term.

And she will continue her glorious road of fighting for what is right, and behind her will be the entirety of her compatriots.

 

Tran Binh Nam

Dec. 4, 2007

binhnam@sbcglobal.net

www.tranbinhnam.com

 

(1) Formed by several persons, in the same pattern of the Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia in 1977.

(2) Before the demonstration of Vietnamese overseas in Orange County, California on February 25, 2007 to protest the Vietnamese government’s repression of the activists for democracy after Vietnam joining WTO and its success in organization the annual meeting of the APEC.

(3) The international legal articles adopted by Vietnam.

(4) One year reduction of the incarceration and no change in close supervision duration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  


Trần Bình Nam

http://www.tranbinhnam.com