David L. Chaplin II
Impunity Watch, Asia
HANOI, Vietnam – In South Vietnam, the police arrested two bloggers in a new crackdown on public criticism against the state. The government’s politically motivated prosecutions of independent bloggers and critics of the government violates their rights guaranteed under international law and spotlights the country’s poor human rights record, Human Rights Watch said.
The current governing Communist Party is planning to hold its five-year congress in January, when party leaders will be selected in a secretive election process and will map the country’s course for the next five years. The “pre-Party Congress crackdown” have heightened their scrutiny and government critics are being targeted.
“The Vietnam government is shameless in constructing charges and rationales to keep peaceful critics like Dieu Cay behind bars,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. ”
It was the latest in a series of rights violations against politically-oriented bloggers, Human Rights watchdogs said.
“In a country where the state controls all traditional media outlets, independent bloggers have emerged as important sources of news, information, and social commentary,” Robertson said. “The government should embrace the key role that independent bloggers are playing in society instead of harassing and imprisoning them.”
“They’re just making it up as they go along,” he said.
“The Vietnam government is shameless in constructing charges and rationales to keep peaceful critics like Dieu Cay behind bars,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. ”
Authorities submitted an unofficial statement saying Dieu Cay, the name for a traditional pipe, was being investigated under Penal Code Article 88, which covers “propaganda against the state”.
Dieu Cay is the founder of an independent group called the Club of Free Journalists. The tax charges were widely viewed as a pretext to muzzle his criticism of the government and its policy toward China. On October 18th, police in Ho Chi Minh City also arrested Phan Thanh Hai, another member of the group. Two other members, Ta Phong Tan and Uyen Vu, both bloggers, were placed under intrusive police surveillance at their homes. Police also briefly detained a democracy activist, Do Nam Hai, on October 19 according to the New York based Human Rights watch dogs.
Vietnam bans opposition political parties and independent media require all associations, religious groups and trade unions to come under government control.
The 17th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which begins on October 28th in Hanoi, provides an excellent opportunity for ASEAN heads of state and other governments to raise concerns about the persecution of government critics, Human Rights Watch said.
Dieu Cay, charged with tax evasion was sentenced to a 30 month jail sentence after inspiring people to protest at the Olympic torch ceremonies in Ho Chi Minh City shortly before Beijing Olympics. Cay criticized China’s policies in Tibet and Vietnam’s handling of the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea.
For more imformation, please see:
Human Rights Watch –Vietnam: Free Peaceful Bloggers and Government Critics – 22 October 2010
Qatar Tribune – Vietnam blogger’s jail-term ends, but yet to be freed – 26 October 2010
GMA News – Vietnam arrests 2 bloggers over anti-govt remarks – 26 October 2010