Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Human Rights Watch Honors Eight Vietnamese Writers

An international human rights group has honored eight Vietnamese writers for their courage in the face of political persecution. New-York based Human Rights Watch announced Tuesday that the eight were among 22 writers worldwide to receive the annual Hellman/Hammett award. Some of the Vietnamese laureates are professional writers while others have other professions but penned political tracts that upset government authorities, it said. All have advocated a multiparty political system in communist Vietnam, Human Rights Watch said. "By honoring these writers, we hope to bring international attention to courageous individuals that the Vietnamese government is trying to silence," Sophie Richardson, deputy director of the group's Asia division, said in a statement.

This year's winners include jailed former journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, banker Do Nam Hai, novelist and journalist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and attorney Nguyen Van Dai. Also honored were essayist Nguyen Chinh Ket, democracy activist Nguyen Khac Toan, historian and editor Pham Que Duong and attorney Le Chi Quang. According to Human Rights Watch, all eight winners have either been jailed or harassed by police for challenging Vietnam's one-party system. The government of Vietnam says it does not jail or harass people for their political beliefs but only incarcerates people who break the law.

The Hellman/Hammett award is named after US playwright Lillian Hellman and her longtime companion, novelist Dashiell Hammett, both of whom were interrogated in the 1950s about their political beliefs and affiliations. (AP)

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