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Special report: Crackdown on the media and dissent in Vietnam

Street scene in Hanoi, 13 September 2013. RWB's report describes the absolute control that the party has exercised over the traditional media for decades
Street scene in Hanoi, 13 September 2013. RWB's report describes the absolute control that the party has exercised over the traditional media for decades

REUTERS/Kham

At a time when free speech and freedom of information are constantly violated in Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders is publishing a report on the Southeast Asian nation that is entitled "Programmed death of freedom of information."

Released on 23 September 2013, the eve of a three-day visit to France by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on 24-26 September, the report examines the methods that his government uses to censor the media and harass bloggers and cyber-dissidents.

Reporters Without Borders presented the report's conclusions at a press conference at its Paris headquarters on 23 September.

"Rather than just detailing the many violations targeting bloggers, the report examines the Communist Party's repressive mechanisms in their entirety and the evidence that they affect all of the country's citizens, not just 40 or so bloggers," Reporters Without Borders said.

"The party has created an extensive repressive system that is deployed whenever someone steps out of line by mentioning an act of injustice or by providing freely-reported coverage of political developments or the human rights situation.

"We are taking advantage of Prime Minister Dung's visit to France to refer to the disastrous situation of freedom of information in his country and to draw his attention to the 35 bloggers currently in prison there.

"We would also like to hand him the petition calling for their release which we launched in June and which has gathered more than 25,000 signatures. Unfortunately, despite our repeated requests, we have received no response.

"At a time when France and Vietnam are strengthening their ties as part of the France-Vietnam Year, we urge the French government not to ignore freedom of the media and information, and the increase in physical attacks against dissident bloggers and journalists."

Reporters Without Borders added: "This celebration, which will continue into 2014, should be regarded as a unique opportunity to promote respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights."

The report describes the absolute control that the party has exercised over the traditional media for decades, and calls for an urgent response from the international community to the escalating persecution of cyber-dissidents. It concludes with specific recommendations for the Vietnamese authorities, the media and international organizations.

Ranked 172nd out of 179 countries in the press freedom index, Vietnam is a subject of great concern for Reporters Without Borders. It is the world's second biggest prison for bloggers and cyber-dissidents. No fewer than 48 of them were prosecuted in 2012, receiving a total of 166 years in prison terms.

Controlled by the party, the media are censored or are forced to censor themselves. Many draconian laws have been adopted, the latest of which is Decree 72, which outlaws using blogs and social networks to share information about news developments.

Vietnam is featured in the 2013 "Enemies of the Internet" Special Report on Surveillance.

Sign the petition
for the release of the 35 detained bloggers and netizens.

Download the report:
vietnam_rsf_programmed_death.pdf (2273 KB)

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