(WAN/IFEX) - Doan Viet Hoat, an imprisoned Vietnamese editor, has
been awarded the 1998 Golden Pen of Freedom, the World
Association of Newspapers' annual prize for outstanding
contributions to the cause of press freedom.
Announcing the prize at its meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, the
Board of WAN, which represents more than 15,000 newspapers
world-wide, paid tribute to the "extraordinary commitment and
courage shown by Mr Doan in the fight for freedom of expression
"Doan Viet Hoat has made an immense personal sacrifice for his
principles, spending 19 of the past 21 years in prison for his
declarations and writing in favour of democracy", said WAN.
"Mr Doan was first jailed for calling for economic reforms in
1976. Soon after his release from a labour camp in 1988, Mr Doan
launched Dien Dan Tu Do (`Freedom Forum') to renew his calls for
greater freedom of expression. This led to his arrest in 1990 and
his sentence to a further 15 years in jail in 1993."
"To return with such courage to the struggle for freedom of the
press after suffering so many years in detention is an
outstanding demonstration of courage which humbles us all," said
the WAN Board.
The prize citation continued: "The World Association of
Newspapers calls on the Vietnamese Government to release,
immediately and unconditionally, Doan Viet Hoat. His continued
detention would be a clear sign that Vietnam has absolutely no
intention of becoming a democracy."
At the same time, WAN urges governments around the world to free
journalists in prison for crimes of opinion.
The WAN Golden Pen of Freedom will be presented at the 51st World
Newspaper Congress and 5th World Editors Forum Conference on 1
June 1998 in Kobe, Japan.