News / Asia

Vietnam Jails Former State-Media Journalist for Blog Posts

Blogger Truong Duy Nhat (C) stands trial at a local People's Court in the central city of Da Nang, March 4, 2014.
Blogger Truong Duy Nhat (C) stands trial at a local People's Court in the central city of Da Nang, March 4, 2014.
Marianne Brown
A court in Vietnam has convicted a former journalist of violating a controversial new law that provides criminal penalties for "abusing freedoms to infringe upon the state's interests." Activists describe the judgement as an ongoing crackdown on freedom of speech in the country.

Fifty-year-old Truong Duy Nhat was charged with posting articles that “distorted the prestige of the Communist Party.”  He was sentenced to two years in prison following a half-day trial at a court in his native Da Nang city on Tuesday.

Nhat wrote the popular blog Mot góc nhìn khác - Another point of view - which he founded in 2011 after giving up his job as a reporter for a state-run newspaper. He had worked as a journalist for local newspapers since 1987.

Posts on his blog often criticized Vietnam’s leadership and raised concerns about Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

His lawyer Tran Vu Hai said Nhat was convicted of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” under Article 258 of the penal code.

Hai said he asked the prosecution to define what the interest of the state was in this case, arguing that under the constitution, there is no mention of the interests of the Communist Party.

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said it was "deeply concerned" by the court's sentencing. In a written statement, it called on the Vietnamese government to release Truong Duy Nhat and all prisoners of conscience, and allow all Vietnamese to peacefully express their political views.

Nhat was arrested at his home last May shortly after a posting an article calling for the resignation of the prime minister and chief of the Communist Party.

A group of bloggers and journalists gathered outside the court in Da Nang to show their support.  Among them was one blogger who writes under the name Mẹ Nam which means “Mother Mushroom” in Vietnamese.

She said many policemen surrounded the court and no one was allowed to enter except Nhat’s wife and children.

New York-based Human Rights Watch calls Article 258 a “vague provision” that has “routinely been used to imprison people for peaceful criticism of official policies and practices.”

Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council held a review of Vietnam’s human rights record, during which several U.N. member states called for the country to stop using Article 258 to prosecute people for expressing peaceful views.

Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson expressed doubt the Vietnamese government would heed those calls. "The Vietnamese government doesn’t want to give any ground on any of these sort of national security pieces of legislation because this is their catch-all for sending people that they don’t like into prison," he stated.

In November, Vietnam was voted in as a new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council - the U.N.’s highest monitoring body. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Algeria were also awarded seats.

Robertson said Nhat’s conviction shows Vietnam is not going to change its treatment of dissidents. "What you’re getting is a Vietnam government that’s bragging that it’s got the most votes for the Human Rights Council and taking that as a signal that they can go ahead and expand their abuse of human rights with impunity," he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, Vietnam convicted and jailed 61 dissidents and activists in 2013, compared to about 40 a year earlier. The Vietnamese government says it only jails people who break the law, and that there are no political prisoners in the country.

Blogger Me Nam said the sentence was a warning for others who use blogs and Facebook not to speak out against the government.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid