Vietnam is a one-party state in which the Communist Party of Vietnam has complete control over the state’s functions, social organizations, and media. The Party-State routinely uses laws, decrees, and the coercive systems of police and prisons to deprive citizens of their basic political and human rights.
Activists for human rights advocacy could become political prisoners due to unclear laws and the point of view of the communist party.
The 88 Project was created after one of our founders – Huong – was personally affected by the Vietnamese regime. It was during a political crackdown in the summer of 2009 that several of Huong’s friends were arrested and became political prisoners because of their peaceful dissent.
Her actions related to human rights advocacy pointed to their release, by working closely with their families and international human rights organizations, and it was here that she noticed a lack of information in English on many cases of activists for human rights, who are now political prisoners in Vietnam.
While in her PhD program at Indiana University, Huong reached out to the student Amnesty International group for assistance. There, she met Kaylee Uland, who at that time was an undergraduate student. The two began working together on human rights advocacy, including public outreach on
the campus and letter-writing campaigns. Around the same time, Vietnamese activists for human rights in Poland connected Huong with Ella Gancarz, a filmmaker who wanted to create a documentary about human rights in Vietnam.
In November 2012, at the confluence of these projects, The 88 Project was born with the aim to share the stories of political prisoners and human rights activists unjustly harassed and imprisoned for their peaceful dissent.
Ultimately, we hope that our human rights advocacy will strengthen the democratic movement in empowering and encouraging the activists for human rights to continue to pursue their endeavors. The democratization process will only succeed and be sustainable if there are citizens who are willing to participate as activists for human rights advocacy and make a difference in the political process.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”