Vietnam bloggers under pressure

Left to right: Phan Thanh Hai, Dieu Cay, Ta Phong TanFrance 24A joint report released by the Worldwide Human Rights Movement and a local NGO has documented at least 33 web users who have been sentenced or detained awaiting trial in Vietnam for their peaceful online dissent or criticism of government policies. The report condemns the ruling communist party’s intensified crackdown on freedom of expression online.

The report cites the example of Nguyen Van Hai, aka Dieu Cay, a blogger who was sentenced to 12 years in prison back in September for “anti-state propaganda”. He recently released a letter from prison in which he criticizes Article 88 of the Criminal Code, the article he and most of the other detained web users in Vietnam have been accused and charged of violating.

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And as is the case in neighbouring China, Hanoi has set up a legal framework and created a cyber-police force to try and silence online dissent. But in a country where one third of residents now have access to the Internet, it’s proving difficult to exert total control over the blogosphere.

And so despite the repression, anonymous bloggers from the site Dam Lam Bao, which is one of the most popular platforms in the country, continue to discuss and write about subjects state controlled media deems taboo; exposing cases of corruption or stories of villagers and farmers facing arbitrary confiscation of their land.

Another influential website, Bauxite Vietnam, is campaigning against the bauxite mining by Chinese companies; a mineral used to produce aluminum, experts say bauxite extraction is having a devastating impact on the environment.

Electron Libre, France 24

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