On April 5, 2017, the German Association of Judges (GAJ) has awarded the Human Rights Price 2017 to the Vietnamese lawyer Nguyen Van Dai. Dai is currently held incommunicado in Vietnam and his wife was banned on traveling to Germany to receive the price. During the celebration in Weimar city, Mr. Vu Quoc Dung, Executive Director of veto! Human Rights Defenders’ Network, received the price statue and certificate on behalf of human rights defender Nguyen Van Dai. An empty chair with his image on the stage pointed out his absence at the ceremony.
In her laudation at the ceremony Mrs. Marie-Luise Dött, Member of the German Bundestag, who takes the sponsorship for Lawyer Dai under the program “Parliamentarians protect Parliamentarians” of the German Bundestag, honored him as followed:
“He was and is motivated by the desire to “revolutionize” Vietnam by guiding it towards a future of freedom, democracy and the rule of law – and to do so non-violently and with self-confidence and humility. That is not an easy task in Vietnam, as Dai’s own life history and especially his re-arrest show. In Vietnam, democracy is still a long way off, so it needs people like Nguyen Van Dai.” (see her full laudation here: English, Deutsch)
About 800 judges and prosecutors have attended the award ceremony. In his speech after receiving the Human Rights Price 2017 on behalf of lawyer Dai, Mr. Dung recalled that the Vietnamese authorities have not yet told which concrete activity of Dai is imputed. Dung emphasized that everyone has the right to know why he/she is arrested. Dung read an excerpt of the acceptance speech prepared by his wife if she could attend and represent her husband at the celebration:
“Being just his wife, I cannot of course speak out everything what´s on my husband’s mind, I cannot pour out his soul as he would surely do, if he is here today, among us, and not in solitary confinement in prison in Vietnam for his work, which he did with all the idealism and energy of a young man loving his fellow human beings and justice, a work which is honored in Germany but punished in our Vietnamese homeland. I can not describe the fiery flames in Dai’s heart, but one thing I know for sure is that my husband, if he’s standing here, he would mention his many courageous and wonderful friends who are imprisoned because of their fight for human rights in Vietnam, such as his assistant Le Thu Ha.
And I am sure, very sure, that knowing all these friends deserve such a price, my husband would receive this honor today in all humility.”
The certificate of the price for Nguyen Van Dai states that “this price will be awarded to judges, public prosecutors and lawyers or organizations of these occupational groups and should be an appreciation of those people, who are at the risk of their life, their health or their personal freedom or with acceptance of other grave personal disadvantages engage themselves for the protection and realization of constitutional principles, especially for those people, who are persecuted because of their sex, their birth, their home and origin, their faith, their religious or political view or who are discriminated in other ways.”
Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai is held incommunicado since 16 months. He was arrested in Hanoi on December 16, 2015 on the charge of „conducting propaganda against the Socialist State Vietnam“ when he was on his way to meet with members of the European Union delegation who were in Hanoi for the annual human rights dialogue with Vietnam. In an attempt to travel to Germany his wife Vu Minh Khanh was stopped at the airport of Hanoi on April 2, 2017 and was told that the ban against her would last until 2019.
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