Reporters Without Borders, (RWB) an organization that monitors attacks on journalists has cited a Vietnamese Catholic priest and other Asians among 100 “information heroes” for standing up to powerful forces that suppress information and journalists.
Vietnamese Father Le Ngoc Thanh, a member of the Redemptorist congregation in Vietnam is a citizen-journalist who worked amid Communist government harassment.
In its citation, Reporters Without Borders noted that Father Anton le Ngoc Thanh is a journalist and a Catholic priest whose more than a decade of work for Vietnamese Redemporist News, a Catholic news organization, has caused him numerous problems with the Vietnamese authorities.
In 2012 he was stopped for questioning on his way to Bac Lieu in the south of the country, where a woman had set fire to herself in protestagainst her daughter, the blogger Ta Phong Tan, being put on trial. He was held for several hours for causing a traffic accident while travelling on foot.
He was arrested again last year during a demonstration in support of the blogger and activist Dinh Nhat Uy, convicted for organizing a campaign for the release of his jailed younger brother. Thanh is under constant police surveillance and is frequently prevented from covering and publicizing the human rights abuses that he has witnessed.
Among the Asians, Iran, China, Azerbaijan, Vietnam are each represented by at least three heroes.
Some journalists cited work in democracies, while others, such as Jila Bani Yaghoob, who runs the Kanoon Zanan Irani (Centre for Iranian Women) website, work under “the most authoritarian regimes,” RWB’s announcement said.
Among women, Filipina Rowena Paraan, a journalist for 25 years now chairwoman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines was cited for her role in the organization’s long-time journalists’ safety program. “This is a major issue in a country where 32 journalists were massacred in Ampatuan in Maguindanao province in November 2009, a scar on the national psyche which is unlikely to heal,” Paraan’s citation reads.