Vietnamese Politics: Confidence Tricks

TS luật Cù Huy Hà Vũ bên ngoài phiên tòa xét xử tại Tòa Án Nhân Dân Hà Nội vào ngày 04 tháng 4 năm 2011. AFP PHOTO
It got worse for Vu.
AFP PHOTO

The repression is fierce;
the self-criticism mild

The Economist

SINGAPORE | 21 June 2013 | THE police in Vietnam have been busy. Their targets, as so often, have been the nation’s pesky bloggers. On June 13th they arrested Pham Viet Dao in Hanoi; two days later it was the turn of Dinh Nhat Uy in Long An province in the south. Both have criticised the government online; both were detained under a sweeping provision of the penal code that allows arrest for “abusing democratic freedoms” to “infringe upon the interests of the state”. Mr Dao, a former official, carried particular clout in Vietnam’s blogosphere, as did Truong Duy Nhat, another blogger, who was arrested in the city of Danang on May 26th. Under Vietnam’s laws they all face up to seven years in prison.

These arrests form part of a wider crackdown on dissent, particularly online, that has been gathering pace since last December, when the prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, repeated an order to the police to move against “hostile forces” using the internet to “to spread propaganda which threatens our national security and oppose the Communist Party and the state”. So far this year more than 40 democracy activists and bloggers have been picked up, more than during the whole of 2012.

Vietnam’s reputation as an increasingly repressive society is worsening. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a watchdog, says the country is now the world’s sixth-biggest jailer of journalists. As in other authoritarian systems, the government is encouraging the spread of the internet for economic reasons (about one-third of the population is now online) yet trying to stifle its use to express views or to gain access to alternative sources of information to the mainstream newspapers and television, which are under strict government control.