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Democracy movement under attack in Vietnam

Categories: Activism, Advocacy, Legal Threats, Vietnam

Vietnam's growing democracy movement is under attack from the state once again.Pro-democracy blogger Nguyen Tien Trung was arrested earlier this month. According to Reporters Without Borders [1]

“Nguyen Tien Trung’s arrest brings the number of journalists and bloggers held in Vietnam to at least 11.
Nguyen Tien Trung, an active member of the Vietnam Democratic Party, was arrested on 7 July, just a few hours after being discharged from the army for refusing to take an oath. The Vietnam Democratic Party was revived in 2006, after being disbanded for 20 years. The policemen who took him away from his home in Ho Chi Minh City were led by the same officer who arrested dissident lawyer Le Cong Dinh last month.

Aged 25, Nguyen Tien Trung could be charged under article 88 of the criminal code although relatives and friends insisted to Reporters Without Borders that he has never been involved in any anti-Vietnamese activity.”

Trung is not the only member of the Democratic Party arrested, Tran Anh Kim, [2] 60, was arrested after being accused of

“….setting up the Movement of Democratic Youth that aimed to collude with anti-government forces at home and overseas to bring about a ‘change of political regime’ in Vietnam. He was discharged from the army fir subordination a day before he was arrested, the newspaper reported.

Police said Trung wrote blogs, distributed several documents, ran the ‘Democracy Youth Forum’ on the internet and made speeches at meetings to incite people to oppose the government.”

Nguyen's arrest is not the first time he has been victimized for his activism.Vietnam's government's crackdown on Trung's activism lead to IBM rescinding its job offer. A 2007 post by Committee to Protect Bloggers [3] indicates that the technology giant developed cold feet after learning about Trun's free speech activism in his home country.

Despite severe government action, pro-democracy and free speech movement is thriving online. Matt Steinglass at Boston Globe [4]says

“But the recent activism of the dissident movement is fueled by a younger generation, exposed to new political ideas through study abroad and, especially, the Internet.

Blogs have proliferated in Vietnam over the past year, though most are carefully apolitical. Bloc 8406 would be paralyzed without Internet chat and voice-over-Internet programs, which members use to communicate beyond the reach of police telephone taps.

……..Vietnamese law prohibits the use of the Internet to attack the government or undermine public security. A national firewall attempts to block political websites, but many get through anyway.”

At YouTube, bloggers have posted number of videos on Vietnam's pro-democracy movement, majority of which are in Vietnamese. Here is a video [5], on dissidents arrested by the government for advocating free speech.

Facebook has number of groups dedicated to promoting Vietnam's freedom movement.Democracy for Vietna [6]m is one of the largest with about 3,400 members.