In response to the fast growing citizen journalist movement, the Vietnamese government launched a new entity (Administration Agency for Radio, Television and Electronics Information) and decree to restrict Internet freedom, censor private blogs, and compel information technology companies to cooperate with authorities.
Since the end of last year, authorities in Vietnam have taken further steps to restrict freedom of expression by unleashing a systematic campaign against bloggers and internet activists. At least 15 bloggers have been arrested and harassed since September 2008.
Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Nguyen Van Tuc, Ngo Quynh, Nguyen Van Tinh, Nguyen Kim Nhan, Nguyen Manh Son, Pham Thanh Nghien and Vu Hung were all arrested in September 2008 for posting writings online regarding sovereignty disputes with China. Also in September 2008, Blogger Nguyen Van Hai, writing under the pen-name Dieu Cay, was sentenced to jail for “tax evasion” after he had planned a peaceful rally against the Beijing Olympic torch relay.
In May 2009, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, known by his blogging name ChangeWeNeed, was arrested for posting online critiques of the government.
Three months after, Bui Thanh Hieu (alias blogger Nguoi Buon Gio) was arrested for criticizing government policies on China. Journalist Huy Duc was dismissed from his newspaper job under pressure from authorities after writing about the Berlin Wall on his personal blog, Osin.
Journalist Pham Doan Trang, who has a blog and writes for the online newspaper VietnamNet, was detained after criticizing the harassment of Vietnamese journalists by Chinese embassy officials.
Blogger Sphinx was detained for posting on his blog a picture of himself wearing a T-shirt saying “Paracel and Spratly islands belong to Vietnam. ”
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, alias blogger Me Nam (Mother Mushroom), was also arrested. She posted pictures wearing a “stop bauxite mining in Vietnam” t-shirt.
Global Voices Advocacy welcomes the recent release of Bui Thanh Hieu, Pham Doan Trang and Sphinx and calls on the Vietnamese government to release all bloggers and internet activists remaining in prison.
The Committee to Protect Journalists calls Vietnam one of the “10 worst countries to be a blogger. ”
Reporters Without Borders lists the Vietnamese government as an “enemy of the internet. ”
Despite the restrictions posed by authorites, Global Voices Advocacy encourges all Vietnamese citizen journalists to continue to exercise their freedom of expression online.
Bloggers can always use our Anonymous Blogging with WordPress and Tor guide to protect their identity, avoid retaliation and considerably reduce the risks that their identity will be linked to their online writings through technical means.
The web has become a critical tool for over 20 million Vietnamese internet users to access and share information beyond the censorship of state-run media.
All information in this post has been provided by Viet Tan , a Vietnamese pro-democracy group.