In this first episode of our interview series with female activists in Vietnam, we had the honor to speak with Pham Doan Trang, a dissident journalist and prolific writer. In this interview, Trang shares with us an intimate account of what it means to be a female activist in authoritarian Vietnam – the risk and sacrifice, but also the hope for equality and freedom. “Our fight is not only against dictatorship, it’s also a fight to free ourselves from our own ideological constraints.”
Trang is one of the few working journalists in Vietnam who, through her writings, openly advocates human rights and the rule of law in the police-dominated communist country. Trang has long been involved in activism, and thus, has long been a target of the authorities. Since January 26, 2015, Trang has been placed under temporary arrest at least 20 times, the longest arrest of which was 26 hours on 23 and 24 May 2016 when she was kidnapped by the security forces to prevent her from attending a meeting between then-US President Barack Obama and civil society organizations in Hanoi.
With police violence against dissidents escalating, Trang, as other activists, suffered from many physical assaults. In 2015, she was brutally beaten by security forces while participating in a peaceful demonstration to protest Hanoi’s plan to chop down thousands of aged trees in the city’s center. Her legs are still in pain from the injury caused by the assault, and she keeps limping.
Trang was announced as the winner of the 2017 Homo Homini Prize from People in Need, which she was unable to accept in person due to near-constant surveillance from the police and her commitment to staying in Vietnam to continue working for peaceful change.
To learn more about her background and activism, check out her profile in our Database.
© 2019 The 88 Project