Interview Free Journalist Nguyễn Văn Hải (Nick Điếu Cày) forced to be in exile in the US by the Vietnamese communist party
Danlambao * Hung Nguyen (Danlambao) - One of the most famous prisoners of conscience in Vietnam: blogger with the nick "Điếu Cày" Nguyễn Văn Hải. He had been imprisoned by the Vietnamese communist government and has just been forced to leave the country to live in exile in the US.
On 21/10/2014, blogger Nguyển Văn Hải -Điếu Cày- the founder of The (Vietnamese) Free Journalist Club was greeted by hundreds of Vietnamese communist refugees as a hero when he arrived at LA airport and set foot in the US. After a few days resting to recoup and to sort out some personal matters. Mr Điếu Cày gave an interview conducted by a member of Dan Lam Bao Internet News to retrace the path he had gone through and also share his goals in the struggle against the Vietnamese communists in the coming days.
Hi Điếu Cày. Firstly, warmly welcome you to the land of freedom. Could you retrace the route from the prison to Noi Bai airport and finally to the US?
I was taken out of Thanh Chuong prison in Nghệ An on 20/10/14 at 10am, by two police vehicles straight to the airport. as the group was getting near the airport, a third police
vehicle joint in, with the total of 19 police agents escorting me to Nội Bài airport. They carried me direct to the tarmac and turned around into the isolation area of the airport. They left me waiting there, and lead me directly to the stair of the airplane. For the whole journey, I was not allowed to see my family, relatives.
I left the country not like a normal citizen departing the country. The US Foreign Affairs officials met me at the entry point of the tunnel leading to the plane. One US official escorted me all the way from Hongkong to LA.
Before the day you were forced to leave the country, had the Vietnamese security forces pressured and put out conditions toward you?
Ah, There was one incident: on 18/08 srepeated that I never plead guilty in order to be released from the prison. They asked whether I had changed and wanted to rewrite the pleaenior leaders of Ministry of Security came to see in the prison and suggested me to write a plea to be set free before the prison term. I rejected the idea of writing a plea, and told directly to them that I will not, in any circumstance, retract from my principle that I will never accept any guilt.
After that meeting, there were two more encounters with security officials, one with the vice director of the jail. I was asked about whether I had changed my mind, implying about my decision of changing guilty plea, and plead to be released from the prison. But I once again reiterated that I have never changed my mind.
After that first meeting, in the second meeting I was met by a captain of the police security force, he asked the same question about whether I had changed my mind. But in thisoccasion, it seems the question was raised just for the sake of asking. They knew that there was no chance of being successful. Then they left, but in their pocket there was a piece of paper prepared in advance, in case I changed my mind, sign the document to plead for being released from the prison.
At that time, did you know any information about the talks happening between the US and the Vietnamese on your situation?
Inside the prison, all the news were black out, we were unable to hear or know any news. Until 22/09/14, the officer representing the US Department of Foreign Affairs came and met me inside the prison. only then I knew that representatives of the US and Vietnamese Foreign Affairs had discussed about me case. At the meeting, the US officer told me: "the US government had requested the Vietnamese government to release you without any pre-condition, either you are in Vietnam or you leave for the US. But as of now, the representatives of the two departments has only agreed that you'll have to leave Vietnam and come to the US".
Just recently, one officer from Vietnamese Department of Foreign Affairs announced that: "that you'll have to leave Vietnam and come to the US". That was the latest information I knew.
The spokeperson of the Vietnamese government stated: "Permit Mr Nguyễn Văn Hải to go to the US for humanitarian reason." Do you have any comment about this statement?
I think this statement is contrary to the truth. What the world community and our Vietnamese
community saw: I was forcefully escorted to the airport and forced to leave Vietnam, and arrived at the LA airport with just a pair of honey-comb thongs on my feet. This shows how I had to leave my country. if for the humanitarian reason, I should had been returned back with my family, and at this moment I’m staying with my family in Saigon, not here in the US. In addition, if because of the humanitarian reason, if I travel to the US, I should go legally with a proper airline ticket, not to be escorted right to the foot of the stair way of the airplane like that.
As you are one of the famous prisoners of conscience, there are suggestions that with the way you left Vietnam you will encounter lots of difficulties to enable you to fight efficiently and focefully like when you were inside Vietnam.What is your answer on these thinkings?
I only would like to say briefly as follows: In our situations, I had been through 11 prisons in all over the country and had more than 6 and a half years imprisoned in Vietnam's jails. I had enough time to see through all the evilness and hideous inside the Vietnamese jails. And personally possessing all these experiences, because I'm unable to struggle hand in hand with my compatriots right inside Vietnam, I'm thrust upon myself the new duty to fight for human rights inside the Vietnamese prisons, freedom of expression, freedom of press, the practice of true justice inside the Vietnamese prisons, the right to obtain true justice, the right of prisoners to appeal and to denounce unlawful practices inside prisons. When prisoners are stripped off their basic rights, they are unable to raise their voices, their grievances, unable to practice their right of appealing, of attainting- the very rights which were formally stated in the Constitution and in the country's civil laws.
Because inside the Vietnamese communist jails, the prison warders only follow the directives and orders from their senior communist officials regardless of laws and Constitution. Hence the rights of Vietnamese prisoners are blatantly robbed. With my case, on arriving here I'll take actions and speak out on behalf of the prisoners of conscience. On matters which prisoners could not raise while being imprisoned inside the Vietnamese communist jails, while with my situation right here, being in exile doesn't mean all the doors of fighting are shut upon me. Because with the internet, there are no gaps, being outside or inside of Vietnam bears no different. Being outside of Vietnam, I could enhance my activities and represent my compatriots inside the Vietnamese prisons who are unable to speak out. I'll bring their voices to the outside world. Because, not like people outside jails, prisoners in the Vietnamese jails. It needs someone who understands their situations and has been experienced the prison life as they have been facing in order to speak out on their behalf. I had been through 11 different jails from South to North in my six and a half years of imprisonment. I have known inside out the fate of prisoners in the Vietnamese communist jail system, what the prisoners need most, that is they should have the right to speak up.
Today, looking back the road you have gone through, as the founder of The Free Journalist Club, do you have any information you would like to share?
I have only have one experience to share, that is in six years and six months of imprisonment, I had gone through 11 jails. Through that whole period I had always remembered everyone, every member of the Free Journalist Club. With members of the Club, we have been like members of a large family, brothers, sisters - the brother/sisterhood sentiment. We have been looking after each other with all the love and affection, and with all the efforts as well as assistances we could harness to support each other through the years. Therefore, in the coming days, I want all my friends and compatriots still inside or outside the communist
Vietnamese jails. Everyone come together as a group to fight for the human rights and other rights of our compatriots who are still being jailed, and for all other friends who are fighting for freedom of press, freedom of speech, democracy and other basic human rights for Vietnam. All of our efforts are to push for these rights to be returned to all the people of Vietnam. The purpose of being in the US is aimed for that goal. Many international non-governmental organizations, various governments and friends from inside as well as outside of Vietnam have tried so hard, relentlessly and continuously. This is the win of democratic values. This is the win for the relentless, non stop effơrts of the governments in the West, of our over sea Vietnamese and all international organizations for many years in order for me to have my freedom like today.
I wholeheartedly thank to all who have been trying so hard and unselfishly fighted for freedom of press of Vietnamese in Vietnam. I'm so grateful to everyone, to the international communities who had fighted for my release from the Vietnamese communist prisons.
And the last question, would you like to share to the Vietnamese community and the general public your plan of activities for the coming days?
In the coming days, I would like to share this:
Firstly, we will regather members of the Free Press Club. Because from the time of forming the Free Journalist Club, a number of us had been detained, imprisoned, but we have never abandoned our goal. Hence after I’m free, all of my colleagues will regroup, to revive the activities of the Free Journalist Club, and will continue with the struggling for the right of Free Press, Free Speech.
Secondly, I myself will continue with the fighting for the prisoners of conscience, political prisoners in Vietnam who have been suppressed by th communist party, unable to speak up. I will speak out on their behalf in various forums. And among my colleagues, there is one special lady who is still being imprisoned by the Vietnamese communists, that is Ms Tạ Phong Tần, the heroic lady who has been fighting valiantly and continuously for many years inside the Vietnamese communist jails. And so tragically, her beloved mother, Mrs Đặng Kim Liêng, set fire to herself in front of the communist government headquarter to protest against the repressive and inhuman treatments of the Vietnamese communist party against her jailed daughter Tạ Phong Tần, as well as other prisoners of conscience and political prisoners like me.
People's Internet Daily News - Dan Lam Bao
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