Tran Huynh Duy Thuc – the democracy advocate
A human rights defender promoting human rights for economic and social reform
At the beginning, as a steadfast businessman, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc was mostly concerned about entrepreneurial matters. After experiencing first-hand the endemic adversities embedded in Vietnamese government’s economic administration, Thuc started spending a great deal of time studying macroeconomy, politics and sociology. In 2004, together with Le Thang Long and Le Cong Dinh, he founded the Chan Research Group (“Chan” means Overhaul) with the aim of seeking reform for sustainable development.
In 2006, after 2 years of in-depth research, Chan put forth a thorough assessment of Vietnam’s economic, political and social situations. An executive summary of this assessment named “Economic Crisis – Threats and Opportunities” was submitted to the previous General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party, the previous head of state and Vietnam’s current Prime Minister, but went unheeded. What the Group received in response for their serious warnings of an imminent economic collapse and reasonable recommendations on reform was deadly silence from the authorities. As a result, the Group decided to publish their findings in order to inform the public and to mobilise them into action. To this end, Thuc and Dinh began writing articles featured on both overseas and domestic newspapers, while Long managed relations with national scholars, intellects and journalists.
In January 2007, Le Thang Long and Le Cong Dinh ran for parliamentary seats in the hope that on being elected they would be able to raise their voice more alarmingly. Unfortunately, both could not actualize their intention.
In April 2007, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc launched the Tran Dong Chan blog, on which he publicized his writings on the Vietnamese economy, political and social affairs. From its very first posts, the blog was met with high regard and warm welcome from the public.
From 2007 to 2009, Tran Dong Chan blog continued to produce a sequence of writings that gave valuable insight into most concerned social and political topics.
In early 2008, the Chan Research Group set out to write a book entitled Vietnam Path Movement with Thuc being the leading author responsible for economic strategies while Dinh and Long co-authoring the law and East Sea (South China Sea). The three men deemed the book a crystallization of their previous findings that would show the way toward democracy and prosperity for Vietnam on the basis of human rights. At the same time, Thuc was also writing a book of his own in English named “Hewing Quest for Democracy and Prosperity.”
By November 2008, on evaluating that the new policy which had just been passed by the National Assembly would drive Vietnam’s economy toward an irredeemable downfall from 2010 onwards, Thuc and his friends believed that a movement to marshal national forces for a great overhaul must be established once the book Vietnam Path had been published.
In March 2009, Thuc and Dinh travelled to Phuket, Thailand for a meeting with Nguyen Sy Binh (frontman of the Democratic Party of Vietnam), where they discussed him cooperating on the Vietnam Path book. This meeting was also one of the reasons on which the Vietnamese government based their arrest of Thuc, Dinh and Long a few months later.
April 2009 saw an administrative and civil dispute between the Ho Chi Minh City department of Information and Communication and One Connection Vietnam.
From 24th May to 13th June 2009, Thuc, Long, Dinh were arrested. The three leading men of the Chan Research Group later received severe sentences. As a consequence, both the book and their plan for the movement were abandoned.
During the time they were being detained for investigation, Thuc, Dinh and Long were held at the same prison camp Xuan Loc. There, they continued to discuss the way toward democracy. Long and Dinh decided to plead guilty for early release in order to resume the establishment of the Vietnam Path Movement.
In September 2010, while being in jail, Thuc kept on writing a document orienting the development of the movement. Because of his writing activity, he was restricted in his use of pen and paper.
On June 4th 2012, Le Thang Long was released. Fortunately, he managed to bring the document Thuc had written out of prison.
On June 10th 2012, Le Thang Long on behalf of three initiators (Thuc, Dinh, Long) publicly launched the Vietnam Path Movement (VPM).