- Critical questions about the United States raised anger on the first day of the Oslo Freedom Forum, where Vietnamese pop star and Trump protester get a prize, writes Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen today about LIDIO-artist Mai Khoi.
Mai Khoi is back in Oslo, this time a guest of the Oslo Freedom Forum to receive the prestigious The Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent that will be awarded on Thursday. ￼The Václav Havel Prize was established in 2012 by the Human Rights Foundation in collaboration with Havel's widow. There are three prize recipients each year, and the award is given to artists and performers who use artistic expressions in combat against oppression. The two other prize winners this year are the South Sudan rapper Emanuel Jal and Belarus Free Theater.
- When Trump came to my country, I wanted use my right not only to speak, but to protest, says Mai Khoi to Dagsavisen-journalist Bernt Erik Pedersen, and the atricle continues:
In 2015, she met Barack Obama when he visited Vietnam, still the US President. When the current President of the United States visited Vietnam in 2017, a protest action was taken instead of a meeting. Mai Khoi stood up by the highway outside Hanoi, along the route that President Trump's car followed. Here she held a banner labeled "Piss on you Trump".
- It had serious consequences. The police threw me out of my house in the middle of the night after the protest action, Khao says to Dagsavisen.
- My campaign launched a major discussion on freedom of expression in Vietnam. After that, I realized that the Vietnamese people have no real freedom of expression. I want to use my music to create change. But I could not release my record in Vietnam, says Khoi.
Mai Khoi's latest album "Dissent" was released by LIDIO via the Norwegian record company Grappa, through the international initiative SafeMUSE, who is fighting for persecuted artists. The Economist magazine recently called her "Vietnam's Björk" in the review of the album and her protest campaign, which attracted international attention last year. She has also been compared to both Pussy Riot and Lady Gaga, writes Dagsavisen.
The Oslo Freedom Forum is organized for the 10th year, bringing together activists, world-wide critics, together with technology innovators and philanthropists. The Norwegian businessman Thor Halvorssen is the founder and leader of the conference, organized by the Human Rights Foundation, where Garry Kasparov is the leader. The press conference on the opening day Tuesday was heated when Kasparov spelled out an American journalist who asked about how the conference management looked at human rights violations in the United States. Mai Khao is diplomatic about the progress, reports Dagsavisen:
- It's good that people can gather here at a conference like this, with the freedom to discuss and criticize politics. It's not possible in my country, she says.
Read the whole Dagsavisen article (in Norwegian) online here.