UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

Vietnam

Vietnam urged to release independent journalists

Communist regime continues its crackdown on free speech with the arrest of outspoken critics

UCA News reporter, Bangkok

UCA News reporter, Bangkok

Updated: May 28, 2020 07:19 AM GMT
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Vietnam urged to release independent journalists

Detained journalists and bloggers Tran Duc Thach, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Pham Thanh and Pham Chi Dung. (Photo courtesy of Mai Pham)

Share this article :
International and domestic rights groups have urged Vietnam’s communist government to respect press freedom and release independent journalists.

Police arrested well-known dissident senior bloggers Pham Thanh and Nguyen Tuong Thuy on May 21 and 23 respectively and charged them with making and spreading anti-state material under Article 117 of the criminal code. Convictions under this article carry jail terms of up to 20 years.

On May 27, the US Agency for Global Media described Vietnam’s unveiled attempt to silence critics “reprehensible” and called for it to be reversed.

“The widespread crackdown on free speech in Vietnam is a blatant attack on the human rights of Vietnamese citizens and on press freedom,” the agency’s CEO Grant Turner said in a May 27 statement.

Turner said Thuy, who has contributed commentaries for six years to Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese Service, is the fourth contributor to the agency’s public service media network to be jailed in the communist country.

Two other contributors to the US Congress-funded broadcaster include Truong Duy Nhat and Nguyen Van Hoa, who are serving sentences of 10 and seven years in prisons respectively. Le Anh Hung, who worked for the Voice of America, was arrested and could face up to seven years in prison for criticizing the government.

Turner said Vietnam currently holds more than two dozen journalists and bloggers behind bars.

“I call for the immediate and safe release of all four USAGM network contributors currently held by Vietnamese authorities,” he said.

Earlier Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific desk head at Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said the arrests of Thanh and Thuy “send an extremely chilling message to all those trying to maintain a public debate in Vietnam.”

He said the arrests of the senior journalists, both respected former Communist Party members who have become withering critics of the party’s ossification, “speak volumes about the feverishness at the head of the party as it prepares for its 21st five-yearly congress in six months’ time.”

Thanh and Thuy, both 68, work for the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, which tries to promote public debates in the Southeast Asian country. Thuy acts as vice-president of the association founded in 2014.

The unsanctioned independent press group’s president, Pham Chi Dung, who was included in RSF’s list of “information heroes” five years ago, was arrested last November.

The Vietnam Human Rights Network and Defend the Defenders, both working for the improvement of human rights in Vietnam, urged the government to drop the charges and immediately release Dung, Thanh and Thuy and hundreds of prisoners of conscience who are jailed for exercising their basic rights peacefully.

They said the detainees did not violate the country’s constitution when they frankly condemned the authorities for corruption and mismanagement.  

Vietnam has long been near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Index.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution