News / Asia

Vietnam Jails Musicians Over 'Anti-State Propaganda'

VOA NewsMarianne Brown
— Two prominent Vietnamese musicians have become the latest activists to be jailed for spreading songs that are critical of the Chinese government.

Despite strict censorship spanning decades, composers in Vietnam have rarely been prosecuted for the content of their music. However the work of Vo Minh Tri, better known under his pen name Viet Khang, and Tran Vu Anh Binh crossed the line.

At a court in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, activists say the two became the first musicians in recent memory to be given jail terms for their music. Khang was sentenced to four years in jail and two under house arrest, while Binh was jailed for six years, also with two years house arrest.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch said an overseas opposition group had claimed Binh was a member. He said the group claimed Binh wrote songs supporting dissidents and supporting the anti-China protests.

“We haven’t actually been able to get to the bottom of that, whether it’s true or not," he said. "Obviously when an exiled group claims someone in Vietnam is a member, there are both positive and negative sides to that. Whether that figured in the sentencing or not is unclear.”

In the wake of police crackdowns on anti-China protesters across Vietnam, Viet Khang wrote two songs:  "Anh La Ai?," which means Who are You? and NuocToi Dau?, which translates as "Where is My Country?" When he uploaded them onto YouTube the songs went viral.

In "Where is My Country"' Khang asks security forces:

“Where is your nationalism?
Why consciously take orders from China?
You will leave a mark to last a thousand years
Your hands will be stained with the blood of our people.”



He was arrested in December and charged with conducting propaganda against the state under Article 88 of the penal code. His mother, 56-year-old Chung Thị Thu Van, said a day before the trial she hoped the court would be lenient.

When she heard police had arrested him, she asked them if she could see her son before they took him away but they refused.

Khang’s case sparked a campaign in the United States called Free Viet Khang. His name is also included in a petition sent to the U.S. President in February demanding the release of prominent dissidents. So far it has attracted over 150,000 signatures.

Under Vietnamese law, musicians have to seek permission from censors before they broadcast their work to a public audience. Observers say this encourages self-censorship and stifles dissent before it becomes public. Although Viet Khang’s work was an Internet hit, the audience was still restricted because it did not reach mainstream broadcasters.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch says that may not matter, particularly with the government's new focus on artistic expression and state security.

"I’m presuming that it’s connected to the fact these songs have gone viral and have been widely distributed on the Internet," he said. "But the other side of it with the Vietnam government being increasingly influenced and driven by the prerogatives of the Ministry of Public Security, everything’s fair game."

Observers say the government is particularly sensitive to anti-China sentiment, after tensions rose between the two countries over competing territorial claims in the South China Sea earlier this year and in the summer of 2011. Many believe authorities are concerned anti-China protests could become anti-government if left unchecked.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
November 02, 2012 8:44 AM
This is my thought that the Vietnamese are generally speaking generous, hornest and hard-working people. Vietnamese people fought against the U.S. with disadvantageos military to have gotten win. They make livings mainly by farming independently and have never envaded foreign coutries. Now, I have respected Vietnmese government claims their sovereignty of disputed small islands with China. Is Vietnamese government taking order from China? If so, I hope Vietnamese people should get courage enough to make decision and take actions to protest its government to keep their inependence.

In Response

by: Autumn Field from: hanoi
November 03, 2012 3:41 AM
As a vietnamese people, i feel thankful very much to your positive
thinking about Vietnamese. We actually have the strength of the whole country's union, which made us winner in the past. However, now we ourselves do not understand why the Goverment restrict protest against China. we do want to speak out our attitude now !


by: ImpeccableVision from: The BlueHeaven
November 01, 2012 10:33 PM
90 millions of Vietnamese citizens are no more and no less to be treated as the forever slaves for the very gruesome and most harmful and trecherous and far worst than Bin Laden, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Stalin and Satan combined! these gruesome devils are the Vietnamese Communists (VietCong) of the Vietnamese Communist Party!
These VietCong or VC all deserved to be hanged or executed by lethal injection! Each VC is a living SATAN in Vietnam today! also, each VC is a relentless thief, liar, terrorist, and above all each VC is a worst TRAITOR of Vietnam nation in almost 100 yrs


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
October 31, 2012 7:20 PM
Poor Vietnamese. In China we can freely protest against Japan and USA.
BTW, small countries has to take order from someone, like it or not. Either China or USA, may be Russia? you choose.
At least China is growing up, but USA is sinking down.

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 04, 2012 9:40 AM
Stop fooling people with west propaganda. China is the best in all big developing countries. Much better than democratic India and Mexico. BTW, I am exploiting America like Ancient Europeans did 400 year ago, OK? Ask me to go back then you should ask all white people to go back Europe first!

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 03, 2012 11:24 PM
Scared? Of What? How is that going to contribute to the discussion?

What about the Occupy movement? I was replying to your comment about how much freedom the Chinese people have and how great China is. Why try to change the subject huh?

And BTW there is a big difference in the US policing the world compare to China bullying smaller countries and trying to steal their land and resources.

In Response

by: @Jonathan Huang
November 03, 2012 6:55 PM
China is just a totalitarian,communist dictatorship like Vietnam.You should go back to China,condemning the abuse of power and corruption among the Chinese leadership and fight for the 600 million impoverished Chinese if you dare.China is not great anyway,otherwise you wouldn't be in Canada taking refuge today

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 03, 2012 10:00 AM
to Amonymous, why you are scared of putting on your name here?
Tell me what happened when American try to protest their government? uhn? What happened to Wall street Occupy movement? And you should tell US stop being a world police if you dont like the "bully mentality", LOL China just wants to be the vice chief so far!

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 02, 2012 9:55 PM
I wouldn't be proud of the fact that Chinese people can freely participate in Chinese government's propaganda. Try protesting against the Chinese government and see what happen. "Small countries has to take order from someone?" What a typical Chinese bully mentality.


by: Anonymous
October 31, 2012 2:42 PM
They are very afraid of propaganda, because 4 decades ago they used it and won the US and South Vietnam.


by: CK from: VIET NAM
October 31, 2012 12:31 AM
Civilians in Vietnam should keep out of politics, 'cause it is not welcomed and the people there know nothing about politics and thus are easily provoked by negative sentiments.

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 04, 2012 9:36 AM
I compare India with China because these two countries have lots of similarities. Both have ancient cultures. Both are big and huge populations. Both have multiple ethnics. Both were invaded by west once. But now democratic India is more corrupted and poorer, the gap between rich and poor is wider than that in "dictatorship" China.
How do you know if China becomes "democratic" and wont becomes like another India? more corrupted and poorer? Tell me!
And India is not alone, just look democratic Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Philippines, Argentina..... almost all those big developing countries. I dont see anyone is doing better than China! So open your eyes, dont be fooled by west propaganda!

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 03, 2012 11:36 PM
I don't know how the Indian government is run but I suspect cultural element has a lot to do with its corruption. Democracy is only as good as the people involved.

I see that you pick one of the more corrupted countries to compare China with. It's good to aim low to make yourself look good huh LOL. I've noticed similar pattern on other posts around the net concerning China.

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 03, 2012 10:12 AM
just speak out which is more corrupted? communism China government or democratic Indian government?

I suggest you can use some help from Transparency International (TI) publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) LOL

I dont use the rank of Vietnam because it is obviously a bias on it. So called TI always want to destroy the image of communism.

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 02, 2012 9:45 PM
Pointing out one outlier does not disprove what I wrote. Corruption is unavoidable as it's an extension of human's greed. It's common sense that if you take away the people's freedom to speak up against the government then that government tend to be more corrupted.

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
November 01, 2012 10:32 PM
to Anonymous dare not tell name. So why democratic Indian government is even more corrupted?

In Response

by: Anonymous
October 31, 2012 8:09 PM
Since you're from Vietnam you have no concept of freedom of speech. Ask yourself why the Vietnamese government is so corrupted. It's because people are afraid to speak up or say anything against the government.

In Response

by: Anonymous
October 31, 2012 8:02 PM
It's not about politics. It's about being patriotic and speaking up for what is not right.


by: T from: Dean
October 31, 2012 12:01 AM
The old same Vietnamese communists continue to corrupt the nation, suppress Vietnamese citizens. The whole world of communism has been obsoleted. Only Vietnam China and North Korea still maintain the oppression on their citizens.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid