If someone believed that it was impossible to be a bona-fide journalist in Vietnam’s mainstream media environment, then Pham Doan Trang proves the opposite. She has 12 years of experience as a sterling journalist at VnExpress, VietNamNet, and Ho Chi Minh City Law, with reams of critical stories and excellent documentations.
If someone believed that journalists and intellectuals in Vietnam faced insurmountable political restrictions, then Pham Doan Trang proves the opposite.
She constantly embarks on endless explorations to (un)cover the most sensitive, most dangerous, most censored topics.
She also does not limit herself within the rigid confines of mainstream newspapers; instead, she uses all the tools at her disposal to write and publish. Independent newspapers, overseas newspapers, blogs, social media, samizdat—Doan Trang has adeptly utilized them all to convey information to her readers.
For Doan Trang, the concept of “hitting the ceiling” is completely foreign; she is forever someone who lifts those ceilings so that others may have more breathing room.
If someone believed that they were unable to surmount material, physical, and even spiritual difficulties, then Pham Doan Trang proves the opposite.
A small and frail woman with numerous scars and injuries, she has had to endure countless assaults by police, drifting through more than 35 different locations across the country over the past 20 months to escape police pursuit and continue her work.
She lives frugally, no different from those provincial students in the 90s, who left to study in the city, but people would see her write consistently and prolifically.
Politics for the Common People, Non-violent Resistance, and Studying Public Policy Through the Case of SEZs are just some of the many titles she’s penned over the years.
Born in 1978, Doan Trang belongs to the post-war generation and grew up when the country and the world were changing at dizzying speeds. Unsatisfied with the disorderly state of the country, people like Doan Trang saw it as their role to address these disorders. For her, there is always work to do, and she does so, without rest.
Doan Trang swears by a lifetime oath: to never leave Vietnam, not even for a day, while it remains without democracy.
Doan Trang personifies fierceness and does not compromise with evil or cowardice. But she is also full of romance and forever searches for beauty in the strums of a guitar.
She inspires people to stand up, to take steps and discover the beauty of politics. With knowledge and vigor, she represents for many the aspiration for a democratic Vietnam, the light of hope in the dark depths of despair, and the ability for oneself to embody that hope.
Doan Trang talks the talk and walks the walk, inspiring many with what could be; her life, simply put, is a powerful testament to what could be.
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