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Party mouthpiece slams US for blogger award

Prizes given in West to dissident writers

Catholic blogger Ta Phong Tan before her arrest Catholic blogger Ta Phong Tan before her arrest
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi
  • Vietnam
  • March 18, 2013
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A Communist Party newspaper slammed the United States and two international organizations on Friday for recently giving awards to three Vietnamese bloggers, including one in prison.

The editorial in Nhan Dan newspaper said the prizes aim to “encourage anti-government activists and directly intervene in Vietnam’s internal affairs."

Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokeman Luong Thanh Nghi said: “This is a wrongdoing and does not benefit development between the two countries.” 

On March 8, US Secretary of State John Kerry gave the International Women of Courage Award in absentia to Catholic blogger Ta Phong Tan, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence, angering Vietnamese politicians. 

Tan, a ground-breaking blogger, started her blog “Truth and Justice” in 2006, posting articles on political news events considered off-limits by authorities. She was convicted of distributing propaganda against the state in September 2012.

Tan’s sister, Ta Minh Tu told the BBC that Tan “is worthy of receiving the prize because she dares to voice her freedom of democracy in spite of government repression.”

Meanwhile, blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi was honored by the Canada-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange for her efforts to protect freedom of speech, and blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh, was given the 2013 Netizen’s Award by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on March 12, marking the World Day Against Cyber-Censorship.

Nhan Dan accused the three writers of “making use of freedom of communication, speech and the internet to carry out opposing activities and cause unrest in the country.”

It also accused them of tarnishing the country’s image.

The newspaper said the awards are “little known” and do not encourage freedoms of communication, speech and the internet, but rather only attack the Vietnamese government. 

Reporters Without Borders also put Vietnam on its list of “State Enemies of the Internet,” countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in violations of freedom of information and human rights.

The list also included Syria, China, Iran and Bahrain.

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