Saying that many of Vietnam’s more than 120 political prisoners are in jail for exercising their right to freedom of expression, the United States of America today expressed concerned on Vietnam’s not so friendly internet policies.
In his testimony on U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Relations in Washington DC, Deputy Assistant Daniel Baer for Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor says Vietnam’s bloggers continue to be harassed and jailed for peaceful online speech and activists live under a continual cloud activists such as Nguyen Van Dai and Pham Hong Son, whom authorities blocked from meeting with me in Hanoi.
He reports that Vietnam seeks to control information, even as that control is increasingly slipping and the US is very concerned about Vietnam’s Internet policies of blocking, hacking, surveillance, and its detention of bloggers.
In addition, draft regulations on Internet content management, seek to restrict the flow of information further.
In his testimony, Mr. Baer outlines US’ concerns on the country’s restrictions of freedom of expression.
He notes that Cu Huy Ha Vu, whose wife he met with in Hanoi, criticized publicly the corruption associated with bauxite mining and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
In addition, Ta Phong Tan is in prison for writing online about police corruption, he said.
Also, Nguyen Van Hai, or Dieu Cay, peacefully expressed his views online and protested his country’s policy towards China and is now serving a 12-year sentence.
Mr. Baer sattes Vietnam authorities has deemed these individuals a threat, a national security concern.
Democracy advocates Do Thi Minh Hanh, Doan Huy Chuong, and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung were arrested in February 2010 for distributing pamphlets calling for democratic freedoms. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention advised their release.
“Development of a modern, successful, and fair country requires the free flow of information the exchange of ideas and innovation.” – Mr. Baer
Amid the restriction, Vietnam’s Internet penetration continues to grow.
The country has seen a blossoming of blogs that continue to attract the interest of large numbers of reform-minded Vietnamese including Dan Luan and Thong Tan Xa Vanh Anh, according to Mr. Bar.
However, other reform-minded websites, such as Anh Ba Sam have been targeted with hacking and disabling as well
Without progress on human rights, there are limits to what Vietnam can achieve
According to Mr. Baer, over the 18-plus years since normalization, ties between Vietnam and the United States have improved through trade, travel, and cultural connections.
He says Vietnamese living in Vietnam, where the standard of living has increased as the population becomes better off and more educated.
With regards to human rights, Vietnam should all remember that our concerns are really echoes of the concerns being voiced and discussed by millions of people inside Vietnam.
“They get it. They know the status quo won’t do.” – Mr. Baer
Albeit Vietnam has become a more prosperous country, without progress on human rights, there are limits to what Vietnam can achieve.
“We want to reinforce them, and we want to work closely with Members of the Committee to push Vietnam to improve its protection of human rights.” – Mr. Baer
Reports say Vietnam has reputation as one of the world’s most restrictive countries for freedom of speech and the press.
The United States wants to continue to strengthen and expand its ties with Vietnam to further enhance its continued positive role as an emerging economy and responsible trading partner.
The United States is ready and willing to be a strong partner in supporting Vietnam’s efforts to continue modernizing the economy – and address issues of climate change, intellectual property protection, and developing new standards for labor.