The establishment and evolution of Vietnam as a nation is an epic endeavor marked with uncertainties and difficulties. The darkest nights of Vietnamese history might last centuries, or decades, or mere months. The Vietnamese people might have to endure unbearable pains and sufferings, but Vietnam as country ultimately belongs to the Vietnamese people alone. And the Vietnamese people are always hopeful for a better future.
The great Vietnamese poet Nguyển Du (1766-1820) lived through one of the darkest eras in the Vietnamese history. In the two concluding verses of a short “Mạn Hứng” (“Spur of The Moment Poem”) in his Thanh Hiên Tiền Hậu Tập collection, he envisioned Vietnam not just as a place where countless heartbreaking events have occurred in the past and will occur again in the future, and also as a place where, as one looks toward the blue mountains faraway, one will always be able to see the rosy light of the setting sun:
…Vô cùng kim cổ thương tâm xứ
Y cựu thanh sang tịch chiếu hồng.
I believe the poet from the village of Tiên Điền could write these verses because Vietnam is a nation where there has never been shortage of heroes. Vietnam is nation where heroes are innumerable – like falling leaves in autumn, as one of her greatest heroes, Nguyển Trải, wrote in the 15th century – because, regardless of the era we live in, there will always be Vietnamese who dare speak the truth or do what is right no matter how high is a price for doing so.
The summer of 2011 is now upon us. It is a summer of discontents. The Vietnamese people from all walks of life, from every country on Earth where the Vietnamese Diaspora lives, have finally joined together to engage in a holy fight. We are fighting to preserve the territorial integrity of Vietnam as the government of Vietnam, the puppet of the Vietnamese Communist Party, lays at mercy to the feet of those who dared to invade our country. We are fighting to take back our right to life, liberty, and happiness and to take back our basic human rights, as the government that lords over us is nothing but a blood-thirsty and oppressive totalitarian regime. We are fighting because our cause is true and just. In this fight, each one of us Vietnamese can contribute, just as hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, and millions of us have and are contributing.
Through direct actions, countless young people of Vietnam – male, female – have taken to the streets. They are demonstrating against China for violating the territorial integrity of Vietnam, for stealing land, territorial waters, and islands, and for terrorizing and killing unarmed Vietnamese fishermen. They are demonstrating against a government of Vietnam that shamelessly looks the other way as a powerful foreign power, China, rampages the lands of Vietnam – cutting down thousands of acres of virgin rain forests in the occupied Northern lands and brutally strip mining bauxite in the Central highlands without any concerns for the environment – effectively gouging into the very flesh and blood of the Vietnamese people. Overseas Vietnamese in the major cities of the world – such as Washington, Paris, Sydney – have and are organizing protests to express their outrage regarding what is happening to their Motherland, a land that has not tasted true independence, true freedom, and true happiness ever since the Vietnamese Communist Party came to power.
Needless to say, the engines of repressions put in place over the years by the Vietnamese Communist Party have sprung into action with a vengeance. Members of the internal security forces have intensified the beating and jailing of the people who dare demonstrate on the streets of the major cities of Vietnam to prevent further demonstrations. They have upgraded their controls of the internet – already one of the most oppressive in the world – and initiated direct police actions right into the home of dissidents to prevent the true voice of the concerned citizens to reach the mass. Never mind that what the people did was simply expressing their constitutionally guaranteed right to speak up and assemble freely. Whether these harsh police measures will succeed or not, only time will tell. But if history offers any lessons, it is that true and just causes will win out. And in the context of Vietnam, no causes are more just and truer than those espoused by the people now demonstrating on the streets of Vietnam. The heroic people of Vietnam shall prevail.
The two heroes I wish to point out and honor in this article today is Ms. Huỳnh Thục Vy and her father, the writer Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn. Huỳnh Thục Vy is a young Vietnamese blogger from Tam Kỳ, central Vietnam. She might be young – barely in her early twenties – but in her weblog she has penned penetrating articles that deal with weighty and sensitive – to the government of Vietnam – subjects such as the political situation in Vietnam, revolution, human rights, democracy, justice, and political violence, among others. Because of these articles, on June 2, 2011, her father writer, Huynh Ngoc Tuan felt obliged to sound an alarm on the web that his daughter is now threatened by the internal public security forces. (http://www.vietthuc.org/2011/06/02/gia-dinh-hu%E1%BB%B3nh-th%E1%BB%A5c-vy-vi%E1%BA%BFng-tham-hay-de-d%E1%BB%8Da/). He related to us the chilly words they told him:
“You must control and advice Vy to stop the “dangerous things” she is doing. You yourself should refrain from writing for Dan Chim Viet, and also should Vy…The most precious thing in a man’s life is his children, every man does everything for his children. IF YOU CHILDREN HAS ANY PROBLEM, then the remaining days of your life on this earth will be really terribly meaningless.”
No words can express the inhumanity and depravity of such a statement.
And how refreshing is the reply of writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan, who not only rejected the threat issued to him and his daughter but also went on to sternly remind them:
“I assert that the writings of Thục Vy expressed her personal views, and that the expression of such views are proper in accordance with the law: specifically Article 69 of the Constitution of Vietnam, the international conventions on civil and political rights, the International Declaration on Human Rights…The viewpoints expressed by Thục Vy are about her concerns as a young person for the current situation in Vietnam. When you to prevent the peaceful expression of viewpoints, you are the one who are violating the law. I protest the threats you made against Thục Vy, if there are problems with the security of my children, you are precisely the culprits…I protest the pressure that members of the internal security organization has placed on my children and me.”
I have read most, if not all of Huỳnh Thục Vy’s writing published on the web, and of course the article that her father, writer Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn, penned and from which the above quotes were taken. In their words are clarity, humanity, a deep sense of justice and an abiding love for their country, our country. Deep in my heart, I don’t believe we can add, or even subtract, a single word from their writings. Each and every word that they wrote bears the truth, bears witness, and thus, as Alexander Soljenitsin reminded us, shall “weigh more than the entire world.”
How dare they suppress them?
All of us Vietnamese owe Huỳnh Thục Vy and her father Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn a great debt of gratitude, and I hope that each one of us will support and pray for their safety and peace, and that nothing bad will happen to them. The daughter and the father from the province of Tam Kỳ are the indispensable thinkers and writers of our generation.
In this summer of 2011 and in the days to come, in her and her father’s hour of need, we are all Huỳnh Thục Vy!
June 11, 2011.
Note: the original Vietnamese text of this article may be read here: