Sep 25, 2012 – Freedom House condemns the conviction of three Vietnamese pro-democracy bloggers for expressing political dissent and calls for their immediate release. The Vietnamese government must end its campaign against those exercising their right to free expression online.
Ta Phong Tan, and Phan Thanh Hai, and Nguyen Van Hai, who writes under the pseudonym “Dieu Cay,” received prison sentences ranging from four to 12 years after they were indicted under Article 88 of the Penal Code for “producing propaganda against the state” and “writing and disseminating information online” about human rights and corruption. Their blogs challenged Vietnam’s penal code for not guaranteeing the right to freedom of opinion and expression as guaranteed under the constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory. Their conviction comes on the heels of lengthy pre-trial detentions and trial delays that violate national and international human rights standards.
Vietnam is rated “Not Free” in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom of the Press 2012, and Freedom on the Net 2012. Freedom of expression is severely curtailed in Vietnam, and harassment of cyber-activists has been on the rise since 2008. The government has increasingly cracked down on blogs and other social media, viewing them as potential platforms for dissent, and has engaged in a targeted campaign to silence its critics. Independent bloggers and their families face ongoing harassment, detention, and the threat of imprisonment. In addition, the Vietnamese government has drafted new legislation that if passed, would grant sweeping powers to the government to tightly control cyberspace.