Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
US, activists slam Vietnam internet decree
New law bars social media users from sharing information
Facebook users are the target of new laws banning sharing of information online
- ucanews.com reporter, Hanoi
- August 7, 2013
Vietnamese activists have joined the US in criticizing a new internet decree that aims to prevent bloggers and social media users from exchanging information.
The decree, scheduled to take effect on September 1, stipulates that private websites and social networking sites are not allowed to provide and share official news from state-run media. Bloggers and users of Facebook and Twitter are also barred from asking for permission to collect news from state-run media.
“The decree clearly violates people’s freedom of exchanging information, a basic right,” a human rights activist told ucanews.com on condition of anonymity.
“It aims to restrict activities of bloggers who oppose the authoritarian communist government’s policies.”
He said more internet users access various programs to get through the government’s firewalls to read uncensored blogs and social networking sites. These, he says, “provide accurate, sensitive, secret and timely information that state-run media avoid reporting.”
One third of the country’s 90 million people use internet services. It’s a risky pastime, however, given that many laws in Vietnam are malleable and used by authorities to enforce laws against those who oppose them.
The decree, signed by the premier on July 15, also prohibits internet service providers from giving information that “is against the Vietnam government, undermining national security, social order and national unity".
The US embassy in Hanoi said in a statement yesterday that the decree will limit the development of Vietnam’s budding IT sector by hampering domestic innovation and deterring foreign investment.
“We are deeply concerned by the decree’s provisions that appear to limit the types of information individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on websites,” it said.
Noting that fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline, it added that the decree appeared inconsistent with Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as its commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“We have repeatedly raised our concerns about this decree with senior Vietnamese government officials, and we call on the Vietnamese government to respect the right to freedom of expression,” the embassy statement said.
Nhan Dan, the Vietnam Communist Party’s newspaper, described international rights groups and local activists’ criticism of the decree as “distortion and slander.”
It said many people “use blogs and social networking sites to spread wrong views, deform and slam the state’s policies, and incite anti-government activities among people.”