YVONNE EPPS WRITES — The results are in and, what do you know? Vietnam isn’t stepping forward to receive the award for Most Hypocritical Media Censorship! I’m sorry Mama Dinh; we really tried our best.
Blogger activist, Dinh Nhat Uy, was given a 15-month suspended sentence and home arrest along with a one-year probation after his public trial in October. It was revealed on Vietnam News that Uy had used Facebook to stage political activism. His story exploded onto the net with reactions to his sentence and Facebook’s role. As usual, the issue has blown over the state controlled news venues, but Typhoon Haiyan looms at their shores, so it’s excusable for the first 10 minutes as we give our prayers.
Voice of America, the venue initially contacted by Uy’s mother to cover the trial, followed up on the report, finding the emergence of Facebook in the case odd. The social media site is a growing outlet for activism and is used by almost 70% of the population, despite attempts to block it by internet providers. Yet, Phil Robertson, the Asia deputy of Human Rights Watch (HRW), claimed that this is one of the first major convictions in Vietnam involving Facebook.
Speaking of HRW, it called for the repeal of Article 258 and a stop to the state’s war on peaceful protest, especially since it seeks the highest seat on the UN’s biggest human rights body. The Thomson Reuters Foundation pointed out Vietnam’s ranking at 172 out of 179 on the press freedom index.
It is apparent that the current order of business is not working. The party’s hypocritical campaign of promising human rights in the face of Article 258 needs to stop. Uy’s story has been shared with many news outlets since his trial and it’s no secret that the country has a problem balancing media, human rights and law. I’m sorry to say Vietnam, but this is not a balancing act you can afford to mess up.