YVONNE EPPS WRITES — We’re already familiar with Vietnam’s war on peaceful protest and “Internet dissent.” But really: Is it wise to attack a journalist en route to a UN human rights review?
Vietnamese authorities kept independent journalist, civil society advocate and prospective UN speaker Pham Chi Dung from leaving the country on grounds that his participation in the U.N’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Vietnamese human rights would tarnish its image abroad. If Vietnam thinks Dung could single-handedly destroy the human rights facade, then it hasn’t been paying attention to itself the last several months.
According to Scoop, the UN Watch was alarmed at Dung’s muzzling and voiced their support for human rights advocates. Radio Free Asia adds that different organizations affiliated with the conference, such as Viet Tan, urge corrective action from the UN Humans Rights Watch and point to the government’s violation of a citizen’s rights to freedom of expression. The story began to pick up speed three days after the incident as many other venues covered Dung’s censorship.
So what is Vietnam’s input on the action? I wish I could tell you, but it would take four years to learn basic Vietnamese vernacular to decipher their code. Although VietnamNet Bridge covers their involvement at the UN review and their prospective goals, Dung is not mentioned whatsoever for English eyes. Many Vietnamese language sites mentioned Dung in articles during the weekend, but the English language state-controlled news venues are exercising their right to silence. Either Vietnam wants to hide something that the whole world already knows or they’re becoming wise to this undergraduate’s snarky snooping.
In the end, Dung will not be silenced; the conference will make sure his message will be given despite his lack of physical presence. But was this a wise decision on Vietnam’s part? The country might be silent to these English ears for now, but human rights activists are homing in on the problems. Vietnam either needs to go with the flow or continue this fruitless war.