Catholic priests resist internet censorship in Communist Vietnam

ICC Note: Social media have become an effective way for people to share information and express opinions in a Communist Vietnam, where the government bans private newspapers and promotes state-run media. Vietnam has stepped up attempts to censor the internet, calling for a closer watch over social networks and for the removal of content deemed to be offensive to the government. However, netizens such as Catholic priests who use social media to call for religious freedom and raise awareness of social injustice continue to publish online to counter the authoritarian regime.

01/10/2018 Vietnam (La Croix) – Father Anthony Le Ngoc Thanh daily publishes his writings on politically sensitive issues such as corruption and environmental abuses.

For good measure, the Catholic priest also uses his Facebook account to call for religious freedom and political rights.

He has attracted 14,000 followers in just a year after having had earlier Facebook accounts attacked by hackers.

Father Thanh said he tried to meet public demand for sources of information other than that released by state-run media outlets.

Vietnam bans private newspapers, so social media have become an effective way for people to share information and express opinions, he said.

The internet constituted a “grace” that God offered to peoples living under authoritarian regimes such as in Vietnam, Father Thanh said.

In late December, it was revealed that Vietnam had deployed more than 10,000 so-called cyber warriors to counter “wrongful views” on the internet.

Lt. Gen. Nguyen Trong Nghia, a senior military official responsible for political affairs, accused hostile forces of using the internet to try to undermine the country’s communist government.“

In every hour, minute, and second, we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views,” he said.

More than 60 percent of Vietnam’s 94 million people are online, according to Nghia.

 

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