A CALL FOR GLOBAL AGENDA FOR FREE PRESS

Perhaps there is one thing that all of us, free writers around the world, value the most: that is freedom of expression, freedom of thought. We all know that mankind can not progress without inventions, without initiative, without new thinking and new ideas. And yet only through freedom of thought, freedom of expression, can emerge new inventions and new ideas. In his long history of evolution and progress, Mankind has gone through dark ages of mental and spiritual suppression and monopoly. But, no person—no matter how strong and powerful--, and no regime –no matter how authoritarian and brutal-- can stop human beings from thinking, inventing and writing freely and positively. Free thinkers and free writers always outnumber dictators, which permits an ever-open door for Mankind to move forward to the future

This is even more so today in our era of informatics revolution. Information and knowledge are no longer monopolized by a selective elite. They are easily attainable to everyone. Free flow of information and knowledge has become a must for progress and prosperity. The trend of globalisation, both in trade and in culture, has wide-opened the doors for easy and fast exchanges of ideas and products. Both opportunities and challenges become non-frontier for all nations. The only barriers toward progress are erected by the authoritarian governors, whose power is weakened by prosperity and justice, and not by the governed, whose future is promising through challenging perspectives and opportunities.

However, this has not become actualized in many parts of the globe. In many countries, mostly backward and underdeveloped, people are still deprived of basic freedoms, of which freedom of thought, freedom of expression, are deadly taboos. Intellectuals, writers and journalists still have to go through a perilous ordeal to safeguard their natural rights of free thinking, free writing, and free speech. The doors toward free flow, free exchange of ideas and information are still closed to billions of people around the world. Peace, prosperity and justice are thus unknown of to two third of the world. This is the situation now in China, Vietnam and many other countries.

In Vietnam, many writers and journalists are now in jail or house arrested, among them are Pha? Tha?, Nguye? ?nh Huy. Recently, the government confiscated a popular novel entitled 2000 Story (Chuye? Ke?Na? 2000) by Bu? ?nh Ta?. A Vietnamese reporter of Radio Francaise International, Pha? The?Hu?g, was forbidden to carry out his interviews and expelled from Vietnam. Many other foreign reporters are either arrested or harassed and expelled from Vietnam, among them are Arnauld Dubus of Radio Francaise International, Andrew Solomon of Reuter, and recently, Sylvie de Pasquier of L’Express. I call upon the international press community to join me in protesting these violent and repressive actions of the Vietnamese government against reporters and writers.

Since information and knowledge nowadays have become decisive factors of development and progress, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, should be considered as a sine qua non condition, as the means, and not the end of development and progress. As such, in this year of transition to the third millennium, to promote free press should have the priority order in the agenda of all human rights activists, and of all writers and journalists around the world. I strongly believe that such a global agenda for free press will contribute greatly and decisively to the development of a democratic, prosperous and stable international community for all nations.

On The World Press Freedom Day

May 3, 2000

Doan Viet Hoat, Ph.D.
Chairman
International Institute for Vietnam (Washington, DC)
Member, Board of Directors
World Press Freedom Committee (USA).

Member, Advisory Board
International Society For Human Rights (Germany)

Visiting Scholar
Columbus School of Law
Catholic University of America (Washington, DC)