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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs