Nguyen Dan Que

Dr. Nguyen Dan Que has faced multiple arrests, imprisonment, and constant surveillance for his nonviolent human rights work. But none of it has deterred him from promoting democracy in Vietnam. After his 1978 detention for criticizing Vietnam’s political system, he founded the High Tide Humanist movement, which works to promote human rights in Vietnam and advocates for more comprehensive social welfare programs for the Vietnamese people. In 1990, he was once again thrown in prison, this time for calling for a smaller Vietnamese military. He received the 1995 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award while behind bars.

Upon his release in 1998, Que was kept under house arrest. Not only was his movement restricted, he also could not use any type of outside communication. Despite this, Que continued to speak out. In 2003, he was arrested after sending a message to his brother from an Internet café. His letter, meant as a public statement, urged the government to fulfill its pledges to respect the freedom of the press. For this, he was put on trial without representation and was sentenced to 30 months in prison for “abusing democratic rights to jeopardize the interests of the state.”

Thankfully, Que was released in 2005, but has been held again since 2011 for calling for a peaceful Arab Spring-style uprising. His courage and perseverance in the face of oppression demonstrate his commitment to the vision of Robert F. Kennedy.