Paris, 22 June 2011 – Dr. Vo Van Ai, a life-long independent Vietnamese human rights defender, has been awarded the 2011 Special Prize for Freedom (Premio Speciale alla Liberta) by the Italian organisation Società Libera. The Prize will be presented in Lucca, Italy on June 24, 2011.
Dr. Vo is the President and founder of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), a member organization of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), for which he had served as a Vice President for 18 years. The Vietnam Committee aims to monitor human rights in Vietnam, mobilise support for victims of human rights abuses and promote efforts to advance democracy in Vietnam.
Dr. Vo joins a list of distinguished human rights defenders and democracy activists who have received this Prize, including Burmese monk Ashin Sopaka, former Polish president Lech Walesa, and World Uyghur Congress chairwoman Rebiya Kadeer. The Special Prize for Freedom is the highest category in the International Prize for Freedom (Premio Internationale alla Liberta), created in 2003, which also includes awards to individuals with distinguished achievements in scientific research, journalism, culture, and economics.
The Special Prize is a deserving recognition of Dr. Vo’s tireless efforts to demand greater respect and protection of human rights and to lend a strong voice to the silent majority in Viet Nam where the mere exercise of, and aspirations for, fundamental freedoms is stifled or, even worse, criminalised, said FIDH today.