Reporters Without Borders condemns arrests of Vietnamese bloggers and citizen journalists

vietnamReporters Without Borders has condemned the ‘preventive’ arrests of three bloggers and citizen journalists in Vietnam.

The arrests were made during the run-up to the Vietnamese New Year and follow continued harassment of outspoken bloggers and their families by the authorities.

Reporters Without Borders has called for their immediate release and the withdrawal of all charges against them.

Amongst those arrested is Tran Thi Nga, a blogger also known as Thuy Nga, who was arrested at her home in the northern province of Ha Nam on 21 January. The mother of two defends migrant workers and those whose land has been seized by the authorities.

Accused of posting “anti-state” content online, she has been charged under article 88 of the penal code, which provides for sentences of three to 20 years in prison for “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”.

Also arrested were Nguyen Van Oai, a citizen journalist accused of resisting police officers and of leaving his home while on probation; and Nguyen Van Hoa, who has been charged under article 258, which punishes “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state”. Hoa recently covered protests against Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, a Taiwanese-owned steel plant responsible for a toxic spill that caused the deaths of thousands of tonnes of fish in April last year.

“This wave of arrests ahead of the Vietnamese New Year celebrations betrays the state of tension within the regime whenever civil society has an opportunity to express itself freely about violations of its rights and human rights in general,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “These bloggers and citizen journalists did nothing more than cover protests and express views about violations of the rights of their fellow citizens. In other words, they defended the general interest. However, it is terrible to see that defence of the general interest and human rights is branded as anti-state propaganda in Vietnam. We ask the international community to press for their immediate release.”

Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.


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