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The Women of Possible Things

Updated on April 7, 2019
Tuan Leminh profile image

An enthusiast for economic development and political issues in Vietnam.

No official newspaper mentions their names. No mass organizations honor them. No solemn ceremony is present. And one of the group "most concerns" about them is the police.

They say things that nobody says.

They do things that few people do.

They accept the dangers no one dares to accept.

In fact, they seem to belong to a world where too few people want to care about, too few people want to get in, and too few people are willing to stand by their side.

The women we mention in this special article represent the hidden aspirations, beautiful reflections, and burning dreams of a nation. They are singing for us free songs and cultivating a better future for everyone.

Nguyen Thuy Hanh

On February 2016, there was a wave of independent candidates racing into Congress, creating the largest candidate movement in Vietnam after 1975. About thirty independent candidates were enrolled, and eventually being removed from the list by the "negotiation" process. Nguyen Thuy Hanh is one of them.

Different from candidates nominated by the Communist Party, independent candidates have announced their action program. And unlike most independent candidates, Nguyen Thuy Hanh is a rare voice to bring women's rights into her agenda. She called for tightening anti-violence laws, combating trafficking in women and children, creating jobs, and promoting education and legal support policies for women.

Born in 1963, Nguyen Thuy Hanh is a woman with an artistic and romantic soul in Hanoi. She participated in the struggle activities from the protest movement against China in 2011, when the protest was still a particularly taboo in the thinking of not only state officials but also the great majority of normal people.

For nearly eight years, she participated in dozens of protests, beaten and persecuted many times. She witnessed a gradual change in society, from oppose, to respect and to support the right to protest. When the rampant protests of tens of thousands of people across the country oppose the Special Zone Law and the Law on Cyber ​​Security, which took place on 10/6/2018, Nguyen Thuy Hanh is probably one of the happiest people, because her efforts to normalize her right to protest has contributed to changing one of the most "sensitive" things in our society.

However, Nguyen Thuy Hanh is mentioned more with her initiative to support prisoners of conscience, named the 50k Fund. Launched in early 2018 from a short-term online fundraising activity to help some trial activists, Nguyen Thuy Hanh received many times the donation amount compared to the number called for. The idea of ​​a fund to support troubled prisoners of conscience is initialized by such an unexpected event.

50k Fund's motto is to help difficult cases lesser known to the public. The name of the fund is to encourage ordinary people to contribute a small amount of money, instead of popular thinking that doing charity must contribute more than 50 thousand VND. This amount is small enough to help those who want to contribute reducing the fear of harassment by police.

So far, Nguyen Thuy Hanh's 50k Fund has received thousands of contributions with a total amount up to several billion VND. Contributions list are posted publicly on her personal Facebook.

The meaning of the 50k Fund goes beyond the usual material support for prisoners of conscience. It awakens the hearts and encourages ordinary people who are interested in politics to help them overcome the invisible fear in their minds. The 50k Fund, invisibly, normalizes what is said to be "political", "sensitive", bringing the political struggle to the normal people with all of its clarity and beautiful meaning.

As a lover of beauty and romance, Nguyen Thuy Hanh paints a bright and long-lasting brushstrokes of the Vietnamese democracy movement.

Can Thi Theu

People often only know the leaders of farmers in history textbooks. People think such people are in books. But Can Thi Theu is a true, flesh-and-blood farmer leader, a living and powerful reality right in the heart of our society.

This brave woman attaches her name to the three words "Duong Noi petitioner". Duong Noi is a ward of Ha Dong district, before 2008 in Ha Tay province, from 2008 onwards, merged into Hanoi. Can Thi Theu may not be mentioned so much by the domestic and foreign press, and there is no separate page on English Wikipedia, if she didn't get married to an English man. From 2007 to now, she has become one of thousands of landowners who lost their land, when the government forcefully reclaimed agricultural and grave land in Duong Noi to assign to new urban construction projects.

The unfairly treated farmers like Can Thi Theu is completely excluded from the planning process, as well as the land acquisition dialogue. They were also not asked for opinions for the compensation and the support for land clearance. The government also did not organize vocational training for these farmers after taking away their livelihoods. Their ancestral graves were leveled without notice of relocation.

As a Tiger woman (born in 1962), Can Thi Theu emerged among the thousands of such petitioners as a strategic minded leader, with both short-term and long-term vision. She knows the police's ruse to find a way to deal with them. The quality of the leadership of Can Thi Theu shows that she knows how to endure and sacrifice for others, always receives the loss for herself and pleases to protect her people. She was patient and ignored unimportant details to achieve the long-term goal of this peasant movement. Remember, 12 years have passed since the people here lost their land. It's not easy to keep up for this hot Duong Noi incident until today for a normal person.

The price of Can Thi Theu is not small at all. She was sentenced to prison twice (2014 - 2015 and 2016-2018) for a total of two years and 11 months, on offenses against public service executives and public disorder.

From the prison in the Central Highlands, she wrote to her people before the 2017 New Year: "Deciding to fight to the end to reclaim the land, to recover the right to live and the human rights that the communist regime has plundered from my family and the people with the same plight ”.

The pure Northern farmer Can Thi Theu is not afraid to call the name "the elephant in the room", the direct culprit of the plaintiffs that she and the farmers like her suffer.

Can Thi Theu represents one of the greatest resentments that Vietnamese people can face, becoming the victim of the looting land policy that the Communist Party of Vietnam has continuously enforced for many decades. She is also a living representative for those who are struggling to eliminate the entire people's ownership of land, demanding the right to establish the legitimate private ownership of each citizen for their land. Any turn of the country from Vietnam to the present time is closely related to the land. Can Thi Theu is throwing herself at the front line of a subsequent twist.

Pham Doan Trang

If someone thinks that it is not possible to be true journalist in the mainstream journalistic environment, Pham Doan Trang proves the opposite. She has 12 years of working as a true journalist at VnExpress, VietNamNet and TP Law in Ho Chi Minh City with a series of critical and excellent articles.

If someone thinks that journalists and intellectuals in Vietnam have insolvable political limits, then Pham Doan Trang proves the opposite. She always embarks on endless discoveries in the most sensitive, with the highest risks, and the most forbidden topics. She also did not limit herself to the mainstream newspapers but took advantage of all the tools that could be written and published. Independent newspapers, foreign newspapers, blogs, social networks, "undercover" print books, etc. These are all things that Doan Trang uses smoothly to bring information to her readers. With Doan Trang, the concept of "hitting the ceiling" is completely unfamiliar. She was always the one who relaxed those limited ceilings so that it became normal.

If someone thinks that they cannot overcome the physical and mental difficulties, Doan Trang proves the opposite. This small, frail woman suffered a series of police assaults, wandering to 35 different places across the country in the last 20 months to avoid being hunted by polices, and to continue working. She lived like a provincial students who came to the city to study in the 1990s. And then people still found her writing well, and constantly making new books. "Ordinary politics", "Non-violent protests", "Learning public policy through specialties" are some of the dozens of books and reports she has written over the past few years.

Born in 1978, Doan Trang belonged to the post-war generation and grew up when the country and the world were constantly changing. Dissatisfied with the disordered reality of the country, Doan Trang always see their role in dealing with that mess. She always finds some works to do. And she did not rest.

Doan Trang had a vow: never leave Vietnam, even for one day, as long as Vietnam did not have democracy.

Doan Trang doesn't compromise with evil and cowardice things, but she is also full of romance and always look for the beauty in guitar melodies. The inspiration she created prompted people to stand up, urge people to step forward, and urge people to seek the beauty of politics. By her intellect and bravery, she represents the desire for a democratic Vietnam, lighting up hope in the depths of the desperate darkness of people, and realizing that hope.

Doan Trang did not say empty words. She does everything she says and infuses people with inspiration about possible things. By simple, this woman's life is the story of possible things.

The three women in this article embody the possible things. They must not only overcome the already extremely harsh political prejudices, but also overcome gender prejudices that always weigh down on every step they take. The meaning of March 8 has never been in flowers and gifts. It is in women who are committed to fighting for righteousness and fairness.

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