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Vietnam: Stop Muzzling the Messengers

ICC Note:

Human Rights Watch is calling on Vietnam to stop its censorship of media in the country. Catholics involved in the Thai Ha protests came up against media corruption on multiple occassions, and other Christian and human rights activists have been censored or charged with dissent in their defense of human rights.

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1/8/09 Vietnam (HumanRightsWatch) The editors of two leading Vietnamese newspapers were fired on January 2, 2009, the latest in a series of measures by the Vietnamese government to stifle criticism and dissent, Human Rights Watch said today.

During the last three months, two journalists and one blogger have been tried and convicted on criminal charges. The press credentials of at least four journalists have been revoked after they covered topics such as farmers’ protests, relations with China, freedom of expression, and human rights.

Vietnam’s deputy minister of information and communication, Do Quy Doan, has said that blogs should be limited to personal content and refrain from posting articles or opinions regarding politics, religion, and social issues. Do Quy Doan has publicly stated that the ministry intends to solicit the assistance of the internet companies Google and Yahoo to “regulate” and “detect” the content of blogs and websites.

The government controls internet use by monitoring online activity, harassing and arresting cyber-dissidents, and blocking websites of democracy and human rights groups, opposition political parties, and independent media based in Vietnam and abroad. Internet service providers and internet cafe owners are required to obtain photo identification from internet users, and to monitor and store information about their online activities.

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