Global NGO Reporters Without Borders has launched an online petition calling for the release of 35 jailed Vietnamese bloggers incarcerated for “the sole reason that they resisted a despotic regime’s propaganda”.
Vietnam is the world’s second biggest prison for bloggers and cyber-dissidents, after China, RWB said. The 35 bloggers currently detained include the human rights activist Dieu Cay and the lawyer Le Quoc Quan. They also include Paulus Le Son, Ta Phong Tan, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Nguyen Tien Trung.
RWB said they are all serving long sentences on such trumped-up charges as subversion, anti-government propaganda and trying to overthrow the government. Their families are subjected to harassment and smear campaigns.
RWB reports that Vietnam’s bloggers are a source of independently-reported news and information that is an alternative to the government media. They write about corruption, environmental problems and the country’s political developments.
There have been several waves of arrests of bloggers, netizens and journalists in recent years. Mindful of the Arab uprisings, the Vietnamese authorities have been cracking down harder in order to suppress dissent and prevent any destabilisation.
Reporters Without Borders has called for the immediate release of imprisoned bloggers and netizens, the lifting of censorship and the repeal of the repressive laws that are used against news providers.
The mother of imprisoned Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan took her own life by setting fire to herself outside an official building in Bac Lieu province in July 2012.
This act of despair was her final protest against the unfair treatment received by her daughter, who had denounced corruption and injustice in Vietnam in her blog. Tan’s mother had not been allowed to attend her trial. “She was really worried for her daughter,” an activist said. The jailed Tan was not told of her mothers’ death.
RWB says this was not an isolated case. Those who reveal the reality behind the official truth in Vietnam are regarded as criminals by the government and are treated with great cruelty.
Jail terms, physical attacks, harassment of relatives, closure of blogs, network filtering, cyber-attacks, malware and phishing – the Vietnamese government uses all of these methods against those who dare to speak out online.
Sign our petition here.