Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Internet in Viet Nam provides platform for dissidents

The Internet has been available for a decade in Viet Nam, and with approximately 20 percent of the population surfing the web, the internet has become a podium for dissidents as well as a source for information about the outside world, Agence France-Presse reported Sunday.

“The Internet has had a great impact on my life... since I know more people, know more about the world, about other countries I have never been to,” said Tran Nguyen Hung, a student in Hanoi, “I cannot imagine how my life would be without logging onto the Internet at least once a week.”

In Viet Nam, the media is heavily controlled, but with Internet access, dissidents have a new way of gathering information and speaking out.

“The Internet has served as a source of information on topics the government deems too sensitive to discuss openly, such as relations with China or a multiparty system,” Viet Nam expert Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy said.

The government tries to regulate what material is available on the Internet, although “technically, it is difficult to predict or prevent all the poisonous information on the Internet, even with strict cooperation” among the ministries of culture and information, and the police,” Mai Liem Truc, a former post and telecommunications minister said.

“Censorship hardens on Internet sites dealing with politics and religion, and bloggers suffer the same hardships as journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement criticizing government controls.

The organization had hoped that Viet Nam’s ascension into the World Trade Organization would help relax government controls over the internet. “But this year Vietnam has seen its worst wave of arrests of cyber-dissidents since 2002,” added the group, which registers eight cyberdissidents currently in jail in Viet Nam.

For the full article, click here.

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