YVONNE EPPS WRITES — Vietnam treating their journalists poorly isn’t even a punchline anymore. In the past year, we’ve seen them wage war against journalists and bloggers, detaining, silencing, and playing jail tetris with them. It’s about time someone went undercover.
Shawn W. Crispin from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote a four part series called ‘Undercover in Vietnam’ about the despairing press freedom situation. The series provides interviews and images of press repression to discuss the reality of press freedom in the country. There are bloggers like Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh who live in fear day to day due to authorities threatening to apprehend or harm them. News venues like Redemptorist News must become martyrs in their endeavor to provide news. Some have been exiled watching from afar like Pham Doan Trang or behind bars like Nguyen Van Hai.
It’s as if Vietnam is polluting the air with a thick miasma, where any attempt to open your mouth to speak can lead to unimaginable punishment. There is nothing free about press freedom at this point, but CPJ digging up dirt about the freedom-less press is quite relevant to what is occurring now. The Vietnam government has only recently given their media permission to report on the Hong Kong protests according to Radio Free Asia. The press is supposed to be a conversation with many voices, not one where the only contributor is the government’s dull monotone.
But there is still hope: CPJ provides recommendations on how to fix the situation at the end of the series, but they don’t just call for the Vietnam government to act. Action from the US, Europe, the UN, and international Internet and technology companies is required to allow for a free. Vietnam has shown their disinterest in protecting the rights of the press multiple times, but they aren’t the only ones with responsibility on their shoulders.