Dr. Torsten Wiesel, Chairman, Board of Governors,
Mr. Ellis Rubeinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Joseph Birman, Chairman, Human Rights Committee
Distinguished Members of the New York Academy
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am extremely honored to be here today to accept the prestigious 2004 Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award on behalf of my brother, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que.
The good news that Dr. Que has been selected for this prestigious award has dominated the Vietnamese media abroad over the last three months. I’ve been interviewed by several Vietnamese radios, televisions and magazines in France, Australia, Canada as well as in this country and have been asked a lot of questions about this distinguished Academy and about the background of this prestigious Award.
Dr. Que has devoted most of his adult life to the non-violent struggle for freedom, democracy, and human rights in Vietnam. As a result of his unwavering struggle against a relentless government and Communist Party campaign, Dr. Que has been imprisoned three times and has spent almost the last 25 years in prison or under house arrest. His life is filled with intimidation, harassment, and torture. Imagine the incredible courage it takes to bear the weight of a hostile government when it wants to destroy you and crush your voice. Yet despite 25 years of trying, Hanoi has not been able to break him. They even failed to force him into exile in exchange for his release. He told them : “ Exile is not freedom”.
Being kept incommunicado since March last year, Dr. Que has no way of knowing that he is the recipient of the 2004 Heinz R. Pagels Award. Had he known this, he would be tremendously happy to know that his fellow scientists, and many many people around the world share his convictions and recognize his works. The members of this distinguished Academy, like Dr. Que, are dedicated to not only furthering scientific knowledge but also furthering the ideals of improving the lives of humankind.
It is of course disheartening that my brother is in prison even as I speak. But surely there is a lesson in the depth of his sacrifice, by which he is still standing by his principles, even though his stand may yet cost him his health and his life.
On behalf of my brother, my family and all Vietnamese people I thank the N.Y Academy of Sciences for selecting Dr. Que for this prestigious award. It supports and validates Dr. Que’s cause. It gives encouragement and hope to him and to all Vietnamese people who dream of living in a free and democratic society.
Thank you, thank you very much.