Pham Doan Trang, one of Vietnam's famous dissident, received her Press Freedom Award from Reporters Without Borders via a recorded video message as the journalist is currently in hiding.  Vietnam is notorious for keeping a tight grip on press freedom and expression.


Note:  Original texts in German.

She can enjoy Vietnamese river landscapes. She likes to pick up the guitar and sing along. But the law graduate Pham Doan Trang sees her profession as journalism. On Thursday, Reporters Without Borders honored the 41-year-old Vietnamese with the prestigious Press Freedom Awards in the Sustainable Journalism category.

For the award ceremony in the Kammerspiele in Berlin, she sent a video message, a greeting from a country without freedom of the press, as she says. She couldn't travel there herself because Trang lives underground in Vietnam without a valid passport. If she went home, she would risk arrest. "But journalism is not a crime," she warns in her video message.

She began her journalistic career at the semi-public newspaper Vietnam Express . She has published nine books, including a bestseller: in 2008 her volume of portraits of gay and lesbian people was published. The subject of homosexuality was a taboo subject in Vietnam for a long time, and the volume of portraits helped to raise public opinion about it.

Understandable language, wide reach

In her journalistic work, Trang advocates for the civil rights of her fellow human beings and encourages them to claim such rights. She writes in an easy-to-understand language, allowing her to reach many readers on the internet.

Her colleague Trinh Huu Long, who lives in Taiwan, accepted the award for Pham Doan Trang. “She is the main journalistic voice within Vietnam criticizing the government and has great empathy for oppressed people. Her mission is independent journalistic information,” says the man who helps her from Taiwan to find publishers for her books and articles. In Vietnam, the press is state-controlled.