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CPJ: Vietnam Intensifies Crackdown on Journalists


Vietnamese Internet activist Nguyen Lan Thang chats on Facebook at a cafe in Hanoi November 27, 2013. Vietnam will hand out fines of 100 million dong ($4,740) to anyone criticising the government on social media, under a new law announced this week, the latest measure in a widening crackdown on dissent by the country's communist rulers.

Vietnamese Internet activist Nguyen Lan Thang chats on Facebook at a cafe in Hanoi November 27, 2013. Vietnam will hand out fines of 100 million dong ($4,740) to anyone criticising the government on social media, under a new law announced this week, the latest measure in a widening crackdown on dissent by the country's communist rulers.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, says Vietnam is the fifth biggest jailer of journalists in the world, and second in the Asia-Pacific region after China.

The group Wednesday released its annual list of the world's top repressive regimes
as measured by press freedom. The CPJ report said “Vietnam was holding 18 journalists, up from 14 a year earlier, as authorities intensified a crackdown on bloggers, who represent the country’s only independent press.”

Reporters Without Borders says Vietnam also has been hostile to bloggers.

Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia Desk at Reporters Without Borders [RSF], told VOA's Vietnamese service that with Vietnam joining the U.N. Human Rights Council this year, it is appropriate to put the spotlight on Hanoi.

"We put them into the eye of the international community and we really pay close attention to their policy. And we'll be ready to denounce if there is no change at all in their repressive policy against bloggers, [or] if there is a worsening of the situation," said Ismail.

RSF ranks Vietnam as the second biggest jailer of online activists in the world after China, with 34 being held in prison.

Vietnamese blogger Hanh Nhan said many are starting to push back, however, against repressive policies.

“2013 witnessed more arrests and intensified suppression against independent bloggers compared to previous years. In return, however, there are more people overcoming their fears to speak up for rights and justice, more people expressing their viewpoints online, more civil movements, and more independent organizations established. Despite the government crackdown, these are positive, hopeful signs for a better society,” said Nhan.

Nhan expressed hope that these civil society movements would help better the situation in the years to come.

Vietnam's government has not commented on the CPJ report.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.
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