Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Internet Censorship Around The World Part 10 Vietnam

Does Vietnam support freedom of expression?

The Internet has become very popular with Vietnamese young people.  In November of 2009, Facebook tracked one million user as opposed to the 50,000 of a year earlier.
The progress made by Vietnam in the domain of human rights, which allowed the country to become a member of the World Trade Organization in 2007, is nothing but a distant memory. Reporters Without Borders

Normally, cybercafe owners are required to keep careful records of where someone goes on the Internet.  People consulting "prohibited" websites have been arrested.  Bloggers have been permitted some freedom to investigate certain situations that would not be permitted by the state-owned media companies.  These discussions have fostered a "virtual civil society" where democratic ideals have been fostered. This would not continue for long.

Department of Radio, Television and Electronic Information
When the Vietnamese government established this department in late 2008, an order was passed.  This order authorized the government to punish users who disseminate information "hostile" to the government.  In January 2009, Circular Order 7 required that bloggs only provide strictly personal information.  No blogger is permitted to disseminate press articles, literary works, or other publications prohibited under the Press Law.  Every six months, the companies that host any blogs are required to report on their customers' activities, citing any who owns what blog, how many blogs they own, and any violations of the regulations of the government.***

"error"message at
Despite the governments' statements that they only block websites that are obscene and or endagers "national security," other sites have been blocked, especially those dealing with border disputes between Vietnam and China.  There are two websites, which although they are relatively moderate have been blocked or hacked by the government for their critical statements about these border disputes.   The first is, the second is  We received this message when we tried to access the latter website pictured to the above right.

Arrests of Dissidents
Le Cong Ding
It is hard to know all the details of arrests due to secrecy by the government, but there are some examples of repression.  In Vietnam, it is against the constitution for anyone to support a multi-party system.  In January of 2010, Ding 41 and Tien Trung 26, were arrested and sentenced to prison terms of five and seven years for advocating a multiparty system through the Internet and meetings.  Mr. Ding is a lawyer and Trung an activist.**  Research is limited to 317 approved subjects, due to Decision 97, which "prohibits publication of research that critiques or opposes the government or party."***

In case you do not see this youtube video click here:

Vietnam Internet Crackdown - CNN from Viet Tan Media on Vimeo.

Bauxite and Vietnam
Bauxite is an essential source material to produce aluminum.  Recently, it is believed that Vietnam may have the largest Bauxite reserves in the world, 11 billion metric tons.  This natural resource is very important to the West, with American banks lending money to Vietname to exploit these reserves.*  There are some groups in Vietnam that oppose the mining of Bauxite due to environmental concerns.**  China is also involved in the production of this source material through the introduction of thousands of Chinese workers in Vietnam to develop and man the mines.  Some assert that Western interests may be in conflict with human rights reform in Vietnam.  You may read the entire discussion here: Vietnam, Bauxite and Repression

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In our next post in this series we will discuss Bahrain.


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