News / Asia

Vietnam’s Latest Trial Shows New Generation of Activism

FILE - Before his arrest, Vietnamese blogger Dinh Nhat Uy holds a sign protesting China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
FILE - Before his arrest, Vietnamese blogger Dinh Nhat Uy holds a sign protesting China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
TEXT SIZE - +
Marianne Brown
—  A man in Vietnam has been convicted of "abusing democratic freedoms" for using the social media site Facebook to campaign for the release of his brother, a jailed government critic.  It is the latest case involving a new generation of Internet-based activists.
 
Thirty-year-old Dinh Nhat Uy was put on trial Tuesday for posting information on his Facebook page in support for his brother, who is serving a four-year jail sentence for distributing anti-government leaflets.

Vietnamese defense attorney Ha Huy Son says that after a brief trial, a court found Uy guilty Tuesday of using the social media site to criticize the government.

Son said Uy received a 15-month suspended sentence for “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 258 of the penal code.

According to a translated copy of the indictment posted on political blog Duan Luan, which translates as “The People’s Comment,” Uy’s Facebook posts allegedly included “fabricated, defamatory, and offensive contents toward the state, organizations, and individuals”.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, says the indictment against Uy was unusual because it centered on his use of the social networking site.

“Even though there have been other cases in Vietnam that have involved people that have put things on Facebook, I would argue that this is one of the first cases in Vietnam where Facebook has been central to what he’s being charged with,” he said.

Uy’s case highlights a new generation of political activism in Vietnam, a country of 32 million Internet users out of a population of around 90 million.

Over 70 per cent of the country’s Internet population use Facebook, and despite being sporadically blocked by some internet providers, the social network has become a vibrant platform for the country’s political bloggers.

Vu Sy Hoang, a social activist based in Ho Chi Minh City, was among thousands of people taking part in a vigil at a church in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday to show support for Dinh Nhat Uy and his family ahead of the trial.

“I think now there’s a new generation of activists, Internet activists. They are very young, brave. They used blogs and social networks to exchange information and they express their feelings, their commentary,” said Vu Sy Hoang.

Although most political activists use social media, observers says the younger generation raised during a period of economic prosperity have their own approach in discussing political reform.

In the past in Vietnam, discussing reforms was predominantly the territory of intellectuals. But now, says Jonathan London from Hong Kong’s City University, the internet is opening the discussion to a wider audience.

“We’re seeing the introduction or diversification of modes of political expression. And of course the appeal of social media in Vietnam is that it offers Vietnamese something very special, freedom of expression, which is unmediated political speech. This is something that is really new to Vietnam and of course it’s exciting for people,” he said.

As Vietnam’s political bloggers seek to inform and influence the country’s millions of internet users, the state is struggling to understand and regulate this new platform for political discourse. London says Uy’s trial illustrates that tension.

“On one hand Vietnamese of all stripes are dealing with a changing social and political discourse, I think that’s very interesting and complex process in its own right and on the other hand this question of politics. What we’re seeing is the struggle to see what in fact constitutes free speech in Vietnam,” he said.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch says he believes the charges against Uy were aimed at intimidating activists and their families from following his example. Many relatives of dissidents already take to the internet to garner support for their cause.

Nguyen Tri Dung, the son of jailed blogger Dieu Cay, also uses his Facebook page to campaign for his father’s release. He said he knows he could be targeted by Article 258 but he is prepared for the consequences.

“I don’t know what Kha and Uy think, but my thinking is that we do it for the future. I have a son and I think about it a lot. So I think what I’m doing here is for him and my mother will understand that,” he said.  

According to Human Rights Watch, 61 activists and dissidents have been convicted in Vietnamese courts this year, up from around 40 in 2012. Robertson says he is concerned the latest case indicates the trend will continue.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: vietnamese from: VN
October 29, 2013 9:00 AM
It's funny that if you say anything opposing the government, you're gonna be arrested and convicted of "violating freedom". That's how "democracy" works in VN.

In Response

by: Socheat from: redmond, WA
October 29, 2013 5:31 PM
That is like democracy in communist kingdom. Investors should start looking into the human rights overtheree and freedom of expression, otherwise, it would encourage for communist expansion to innocent people.

it is 2013, Vietnamese government should change the way of controlling people rather than shutting people up.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid