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Below are the Q&A on The International Youth Movement For Human Rights and the Conference in 2017, Australia
(Published in Adelaide Tuần Báo 17/11/16, a weekly Vietnamese newspaper in Adelaide)
The International Youth Movement for Human Rights was recently established in Australia and our activities have caught the attention of the Vietnamese community. Our members have taken important steps towards activism including the organisation of the forthcoming international conference in Sydney. As a relatively new organisation, we have received many enquiries about the forthcoming conference and our Movement in general. I would like to take this opportunity, provided by this newspaper, to respond to those enquiries.
Please tell us what motivated you to establish this movement?
It is clear to us that there are many young people who are concerned about the human rights situation in Vietnam, but until now they have not had the opportunity to work together. We want to empower those who share the same ideals by facilitating an environment in which they are able to come together. Also, it has been very difficult to witness the environment – the sea, the land – being destroyed by the Chinese communists without any visible opposition from the current rulers of Vietnam, whose only concern appears to be their own wealth and comfort. They distance themselves from the people and are blind to the people’s miseries. When the youth of Vietnam call for justice the rulers of Vietnam crack down mercilessly. We feel that, in light of these atrocities, we cannot idly sit by. So we decided to start this Movement, to walk with others, to raise our voices for social justice.
What are the Movement’s objectives?
Our aim is to plant the seed of awareness in youth around the world, awareness of the serious violation of human rights in Vietnam. We want to revive interest amongst the disinterested and gather together the young people who still care for the future progress of Vietnam. Our aim is to share our knowledge, to guide others towards the path of humanity in Vietnam. We also undertake practical projects in order to accelerate the democratisation and liberalisation of Vietnam.
Thus the main activities of our movement are conferences, presentations, film screenings and the distribution of associated literature in order to share knowledge, provide relevant advice and raise awareness of human rights and social justice issues. From this, the young people will decide themselves, what needs to be done for the country and our people.
Why is the movement being established at this point in time?
The reason the Movement is being founded at this point in time is because we have never seen such extreme unhappiness as has been expressed by the people since the Formosa environmental disaster in Vũng Áng. There has also been persistent harassment of our fishermen, whilst working in territorial waters, by Chinese coastguards. Furthermore, countless villagers are victims of an amoral land grabbing policy devised to benefit only those who are already rich and powerful. The young people inside Vietnam, for the most part, live a life without meaning, without ideals, and with a tainted value system. Meanwhile, the ruling regime continue to enact policies that destroy the traditional value systems practiced and bequeathed from our ancestors.
It is high time we call on the Vietnamese diaspora to work together and support the young people inside Vietnam to stand up and fight for human rights.
There are some whispering that the Movement is just an “offspring” of some political organisations. Is this correct?
No. This is completely false. Our Movement’s current leader is Trần Kiều Ngọc, a lawyer from Adelaide. She has never participated in any political organisation. All ideas, projects and strong desires for a truly democratic and free Vietnam originate from our hearts and souls and our efforts are strongly supported by the leaders of our community. All initial financial funding came from our own pockets, which were used for the initial setup costs of our Movement.
What are the conditions for becoming a member of your movement?
To become a member of our movement is very simple. There are no conditions besides having a special interest in human rights. Though our members are mainly from the younger generation, we welcome everyone. As long as you are passionate about our beliefs and are willing to contribute to the advancement of human rights in Vietnam and throughout the world.
Does your Movement accept memberships from other countries?
For legal reasons, our Movement encourages people who live outside of Australia to become Associate or Non-financial Members.
Has your Movement received much support in the past?
Despite being a young Movement – we were established in May, 2016 – we were fortunate to have received lots of support and love from our fellow Vietnamese, the media in America and Australia, various political organisations, the Dalat Military Academy alumni family, Da Hieu Youth (USA) and Au Co Women Association (USA).
Currently the two key organisation supporting us are New South Wales Vietnamese Women Association and the Vietnamese Australian Law Association. With regards to our upcoming youth conference in 2017 we also received moral support from former Australia Supreme Court judge Michael Kirby, Bishop Vincent Nguyen Van Long, Lưu Tường Quang (lawyer) and Võ Đại Tôn (freedom fighter).
We recently heard that your Movement will organise World Youth conference from the 7th to 10th if September 2017, please tell us further details and the objectives of the conference?
The conference, entitled “Vietnam: Pathway to Humanity,” aims to gather young activists from all over the world to share notes on the human rights situation, and a new direction for Vietnam.
The conference will be held at Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Australia. According to the organiser, this venue is well suited to host international speakers and participants. The wonderful setting amongst the hills and mountains will provide a tranquil atmosphere which will warm the hearts of the youths and allow us to sit together to reflect our shared love of our country and people.
The conference will officially open at Wesley Conference Centre in Central Sydney the evening of 7th of September 2017.
After the opening ceremony the conference delegates will be transferred to the Blue Mountains to attend the three day conference at the Fairmont Resort.
The conference speakers include representatives from United Nations, Amnesty International, leaders of various political and religious groups as well as unaffiliated social campaigners. There will be many activities including a completion in the form of a debate, which will be held on the 10th of September. There will also be “Amazing race” style games in the mountains, story sharing during dinner time, wood fires events and musical entertainment, which will be facilitated by Trúc Hồ, a famous musician and composer from the United State of America.
The conference registration period is from March to July, 2017. Registration is through our website: humanrightsyouth.org
The estimated number of delegates is between 300 and 400.
The expenses for the conference is very high. We intend to reduce the fee for each participant and subsidise the traveling cost for the speakers by fund raising effort. We hope our fund raising effort is successful so that we could reduce the registration fee for the students. The estimate for the speakers’ combined travel cost for the speakers is approximately AUD$30,000.
With such high costs, how can the movement manage to organise the event?
We try very hard. All promotional costs are borne by our members. Each of us has contributed 1,100 AUD for the conference venue deposit.
We are also applying for funding from the Australian government and Amnesty International. We also have support from local businesses and contributions from individuals in our community.
In the coming weeks, we will organise a series of fund raising events in various states in Australia. We hope that the community and other organisations will support and encourage us in our efforts to work for a better and brighter Vietnam.