Phan Kim Khanh Receives the 2020 Le Dinh Luong Human Rights Award

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December 12, 2020

Phan Kim Khanh Receives the 2020 Le Dinh Luong Human Rights Award

Viet Tan is proud to announce Mr. Phan Kim Khanh as the recipient of the 2020 Le Dinh Luong Human Rights Award. At 24 years old, Mr. Phan Kim Khanh was sentenced to prison because of writing on social issues in Vietnam.

The Le Dinh Luong Human Rights Award was established in 2018. This was the same year that human rights defender Le Dinh Luong was sentenced to 20 years in prison because he fought to protect the interests of the Vietnamese people and the sovereignty of Vietnam. Viet Tan created this award to recognize the sacrifice and effort of individuals or organizations working tirelessly to defend human rights for the Vietnamese people.

The award ceremony to recognize Mr. Phan Kim Khanh will take place on December 12, 2020, in Sydney, Australia. 

The following is an overview about Mr. Phan Kim Khanh and his activism: 

Mr. Phan Kim Khanh was born in 1993 and is currently 27 years old. He was a student at Thai Nguyen University, an independent blogger, and a journalist. Khanh comes from a poor family and, through his passion for learning, overcame many obstacles in order to attend college. In school, he was elected President of the International Student Association. He received a scholarship in 2015 from the US State Department’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) to attend a training course organized by the US Embassy in Hanoi. 

While studying, he worked for a software company in order to support himself. In his spare time, he enjoyed finding out the problems that prevented Vietnam from becoming a developed country. In 2015, he set up two blogs called “Bao Tham Nhung” (Newspaper On Corruption) and “Tuan Viet Nam” (Vietnam Weekly) to publish news on corruption, politics, economy, environment, and other issues. He wrote articles calling for pluralism, freedom of election, freedom of the press, and end to the politicization of the military.

The activities he engaged in were focused on improving the social conditions in Vietnam. He once stated, “I want to become a true communicator in the near future; I want to contribute to the movement to fight for democracy and freedom of press in Vietnam.”

Organizing for democracy and freedom of press in Vietnam is contentious and the reason why the Vietnamese government targeted Khanh. With only a few months left in his 5-year university program, Mr. Phan Kim Khanh was arrested by the police in Thai Nguyen province on March 21, 2017. He was charged with Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code (now Article 117 in the 2015 Penal Code) for “conducting propaganda against the state” as a result of the content criticizing the state on his blog pages, Facebook, and Youtube accounts.

During the trial in May 2017, he was sentenced to six years in prison and four years of house arrest. Khanh tried to appeal, but the prison authorities did not submit his appeals request. When he filed a complaint, prison authorities retaliated with measures such as not allowing him to call home, not allowing him to receive family letters, and threatening to put him in solitary confinement.

The only crime Mr. Phan Kim Khanh committed is that he expressed his political opinion against the Vietnamese government. Students in Vietnam should be encouraged to learn and write about political and social issues, rather than be punished for exchanging information on them.  Mr. Phan Kim Khanh’s enthusiasm and courage are inspiring.

We would like to congratulate Mr. Phan Kim Khanh on receiving this award. On this occasion, we would also like to sincerely thank our panel of judges: artist Nguyen Kim Chi, former prisoner of conscience Tran Thi Nga, Australian Member of Parliament Chris Hayes, President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia Nguyen Van Bon, President of the Vietnamese Community in Australia/NSW Chapter Paul Huy Nguyen, and lecturer Pham Minh Hoang.

For more information, please contact Duy Hoang: +1 202-596-7951

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