A court in Vietnam has imposed prison sentences on three Internet bloggers there for writings critical of the Vietnamese government.
A court in Vietnam has imposed prison sentences on three Internet bloggers there for writings critical of the Vietnamese government, the latest crackdown against online dissent in the Southeast Asian nation.
The United States is deeply troubled by the convictions of Ta Phong Tan, Phan Thanh Hai and Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, who appear to have done nothing more than exercise their freedom of expression. The harsh penalties – ranging from four to 12 years in jail, followed by house arrest – appear aimed not just at punishing the defendants on the charges of spreading “propaganda against the state,” but also at stifling dissent and intimidating others who might consider expressing views critical of the Vietnamese government.
Internet usage has grown quickly in Vietnam, with an estimated 34 percent of the nation’s 90 million people now turning to the Internet for news, information and social interaction. The three defendants, members of a group calling itself the Free Journalists Club, helped address this interest with writings about political, economic and social issues. Because of the strict limits on press freedom in Vietnam, the Internet has become a frequent avenue for dissenters to disseminate their views and their arrests are common.
Imprisoning people for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which have been ratified by the government of Vietnam. These convictions serve yet again as a violation of this freedom.
A free press, including on-line media, is essential to an open and just society. The Vietnamese government should adhere to its international obligations and release these three bloggers, as well as all prisoners of conscience.