Viet Khang, a patriotic songwriter and singer, was born into a poor family in My Tho (Tien Giang province) in 1978 as Vo Minh Tri. He is married and has a four-year old son. He discovered his passion for music from an early age and is performing with several local bands as a drummer. He operates a small recording studio to provide for his family’s daily livelihood. While he was traveling many Vietnamese cities to perform, he noticed all the rampant social injustices and widening poverty that affect and threaten his country’s development and future. He decided then to found the Patriotic Youth League gathering some college students, young professionals and artists. The creation of this network did not only enable them to share each other’s feeling and thoughts about the country between them, but also to increase public awareness of the intolerable actions of the Communist government of Vietnam that generate many social injustices. For the love of his country, Viet Khang courageously wrote and performed two protest songs that spread virally through the internet.
His song “Anh Là Ai?” (“Who are you?”) denounces the unjust brutal assault, arrest and detention of peaceful demonstrators who were expressing concern over China’s territorial ambitions for the islands of Paracel and Spratley. Viet Khang has participated in the anti-China protests in 2011. In his other song “Việt Nam Tôi Đâu?” (“Where is my Vietnam?”), Viet Khang confesses disillusionment with a regime that pays little attention to the spreading social injustices, decries the leadership’s lack of resolve to defend the country’s sovereignty, and calls on citizens to assume responsibility for Vietnam’s future.
After the release of his two patriotic songs, Vietnamese police arrested Viet Khang twice, once on September 16th, and again on December 23rd, 2011 without any charges. He is now detained at the Phan Dang Luu prison in Saigon, Vietnam.
Many politicians spoke out on Viet Khang’s behalf for his release. US Congress introduced the Vietnam Human Rights Act H. Res 484, which calls the Hanoi regime to repeal national security laws used to suppress dissent. Representative Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) took the House Floor on February 1st, 2012 to advocate for the release of Viet Khang: “it is time for the government of Vietnam to respect the freedom of expression through the arts, stop these arbitrary arrests, and recognize the basic human rights of the individual”. Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre, also expressed himself on Viet Khang’s arrest: “I echo the Vietnamese Canadian Federation in calling on the government of Canada to urge the Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him as well as other prisoners of conscience (…) who are currently imprisoned in Vietnam”. Meanwhile, a Viet Khang Movement has been launched by Truc Ho from SBTN (Saigon Broadcasting Television Network) with the use of the broadcast and social media to call all Vietnamese-Americans to sign the We, the People petition with the Obama administration via the White House website in the United States of America. In 30 short days, Truc Ho’s petition had achieved 149,050 signatures. The campaign is hoping to bring light to Vietnam’s lack of democracy, and asks President Barack Obama to stop expanding trade with Vietnam at the expense of Human rights. About 700 people gathered in Washington DC on Saturday 3/4/2012 to prepare their meeting with the White House for Tuesday, March 6th. On the crucial day, for the first time, more than 200 Vietnamese were inside the White House. Three Vietnamese youths were asked to speak on behalf of the Vietnamese community: Cindy Dinh from Texas Vietnamese Rights Council, Billy Le from the Vietnamese General Association of California, and singer Quoc Khanh. Congresswoman Susan Davis and Rep. Ed Royce responded to the movement saying that “it is time for Viet Khang to be let go NOW!”.
- “Anh Là Ai?” performed by Viet Khang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4L1grczk6E
- “Anh Là Ai?” performed by Asia Entertainment with English subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb5qffWEIJg&feature=related
- “Việt Nam Tôi Đâu?” performed by Viet Khang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KEPmduvlAg
- Free Viet Khang by Representative Loretta Sanchez : https://www.youtube.com/embed/0eWhaQUtzzA
- Free Viet Khang by Congresswoman Susan Davis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQbTmLgm7-Y
- Free Viet Khang by Rep. Ed Royce: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl52-ZZqaAU
- Letter from Ottawa: http://www.viettan.org/IMG/pdf/Paul_Dewar_s_statement_Feb_13_2012.pdf
Viet Khang, Songwriter with a Conscience Jailed for Expressing his Patriotic Feelings, January 20, 2012, http://vietnamexodus.info/vne0508/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7604
Artist Viet Khang earned jail-time for his patriotic songs, February 4, 2012,
Free Viet Khang Update, March 6, 2012,
Archive for Viet Khang, March 10, 2012,
Viet Khang Movement March 15, 2012,