News / Asia

Vietnam Urged to Release Bloggers on Journalism Day

An internet user displays an entry on Quan Lam Bao, one of Vietnam's blog sites, at a cafe in Hanoi, October 9, 2012.An internet user displays an entry on Quan Lam Bao, one of Vietnam's blog sites, at a cafe in Hanoi, October 9, 2012.
x
An internet user displays an entry on Quan Lam Bao, one of Vietnam's blog sites, at a cafe in Hanoi, October 9, 2012.
An internet user displays an entry on Quan Lam Bao, one of Vietnam's blog sites, at a cafe in Hanoi, October 9, 2012.
Marianne Brown
While journalists working for Vietnam's state-run media are receiving gifts for Revolutionary Journalism Day, bloggers and Internet activists are not so lucky.  The Vietnamese government seems eager to celebrate the role of the media in the country's wars against France and the U.S., but it is not so tolerant of independent voices and has arrested several in a recent crackdown.

In a recent speech to the National Assembly, Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Bao Son said the Internet had helped Vietnam’s development, but stressed that there was also a negative side.
 
He said opportunist elements had abused the Internet to spread false information that distorted state policies.
 
Over the last month, two bloggers and an Internet activist have been accused of doing just that. They were arrested for “abusing democratic freedoms,” a charge that can result in a three-year jail term.
 
Some point to internal rivalry as motivation for the crackdown.
 
Jonathan London, from the City University in Hong Kong, said the arrests were aimed at scaring people.
 
"My own sense is that after observing that there have been important, significant changes in Vietnamese political culture that a wave of oppression of uncertain duration has begun in earnest and the arrests of bloggers, in particular bloggers who may be more moderate in their criticisms of the current state of affairs is alarming."
 
Shortly before his arrest, 49-year-old Truong Duy Nhat posted an article on his blog blaming Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong for the country’s economic crisis and called for their resignations.
 
A few weeks later, on June 13, police arrested another prominent political blogger, 61-year-old Pham Viet Dao, at his home in Hanoi. The following Sunday, Dinh Nhat Uy was also arrested. Uy had recently launched an Internet campaign to free his younger brother who had been jailed for eight years for handing out anti-government pamphlets.
 
Thursday, Human Rights Watch condemned the arrests and called for the bloggers immediate release.
 
Accessing information on a topic that is not approved for discussion by the state is difficult, says journalist and blogger Doan Trang. For example, she says journalists are sometimes told not to report on a topic like the territorial dispute over the South China Sea.
 
"But if some bloggers or journalists still try to access information, especially official information, [if] they try to meet scholars or retired officials to talk about [the] South China Sea dispute and they publish it on their personal blog - if that article goes viral on the Internet, then that person will be in trouble, or at least the one that they met will be in trouble."
 
Over a third of Vietnam’s population of 90 million people use the Internet. Social media and blogging are becoming increasingly popular.
 
Trang says while more people are writing political blogs, she thinks the state has “effective tools” to keep them in check. These include police intimidation and so-called “public opinion shapers” employed to post comments on blogs and social media.
 
Many observers say they expect more arrests in the coming weeks.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs