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.
    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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora