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Vi Duc Hoi, Grant Awarded 2009, 2011

Vi Đức Hồi

Vi Đức Hồi held important posts in the Communist Party of Vietnam in a remote province near the Chinese border. In 2006, he quietly started supporting calls for respecting human rights and was soon expelled from the party and subjected to public denunciation sessions. He then published a memoir, Facing Reality: My Path to Joining the Democracy Movement and received his first Hellman-Hammett grant. Charged with conducting propaganda against the state, he was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2011, and the court ordered him to turn over the equivalent of $2,800 he had supposedly “illegally received” from overseas groups. Human Rights Watch released a statement noting that there is no provision for a monetary fine in article 88 of the penal code under which Vi Đức Hồi was convicted. On appeal, the fine was suspended and his sentence reduced to five years.

How can repressive governments be compelled to stop abusing human rights? The answer is not simple. Human Rights Watch applies the same basic methodology all over the world: investigate a broad range of cases to establish an incontrovertible record of wrongdoing; expose those research findings as widely as possible through the mainstream and social media; and provide governments with specific policy options to stop abuse. Sometimes change is long in coming. But local activists recognize the value of bearing witness. So do the writers honored by Hellman-Hammett. Help Defend Human Rights & Save Lives. Donate at HRW.org.

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