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In Vietnam: Being a Blogger Could Land You In Jail, Cost You Your Life

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the blog-free-or-die dept.

Censorship 144

An anonymous reader writes "Bloggers in Vietnam are increasingly finding themselves thrown in jail. Despite freedom of speech being enshrined in the nation's Constitution, many who speak out against the government are thrown in jail — thanks to a new law that forbids such talk. In one desperate act, Dang Thi Kim Lieng lit herself on fire outside the Bac Lieu People's Committee building in southern Vietnam. She died of her injuries. She was protesting the detention of her daughter who was arrested for blogging against the government. Three other bloggers are scheduled be tried under section 88 of the criminal code, which relates to propaganda against the nation. A maximum sentence could carry with it 20 years in jail."

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"Sounds like the United States" (5, Insightful)

hawks5999 (588198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40989995)

Julian Assange was overheard to say.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990033)

Nah, in the United States, you don't even have to be a resident to break the laws.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990157)

There needs to be a mod for funny but all to true.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (-1, Flamebait)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991767)

Not exactly. If you are a citizen and leak secret documents you are a traitor. If you aren't you are an enemy. The correct response to Mr. Assange should have been a phone call to the country he was in at the time demanding they surrender him over to us and for the hosting center to instantly disconnect his systems. Refusal should have been swiftly followed by a Hellfire missle or three. The problem would have ended and would have been very unlikely to repeat.

Datacenters are very pricy things, the thought of a missle barrage would be sufficient to convince most admins that they really don't need to pull the sort of all nighters required to stay up and running through that. DDoS attacks are bad enough, shrapnel in the racks is quite another.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (2)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992595)

The problem would have ended and would have been very unlikely to repeat.

I disagree on both counts. Given that Assange was in a country that was a firm U.S. ally then declaring war (missiles into a sovereign country) would create far more problems than it would solve. Admittedly it is debated, but U.S. interference encouraged terrorism, and in fact, the very leaks you are proposing even more heavy-handedness would stop.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (-1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992733)

Um, Assange is leaking military secrets intended to kill US servicemen in a war authorized by our Congress. Strange definition of 'ally' you have there if said 'ally' wouldn't be willing to deal with a Taliban irregular within their borders. I'd be perfectly happy if some EU nation or his native Austrailia put a bullet in the f*cker and saved us the bother, otherwise they should have to hand his ass over to us or suffer the consequences of taking the other side in a war from the US. Unlike the Taliban, those countries ARE signatories to the Geneva Conventions and are subject to the customary rules, in this case the rules regarding neutrality. Allowing irregular combatants to operate notoriously from within your territory is forbidden by the laws of war. Providing material support to a warring faction, as would be the case for a hosting company accepting wikileaks as a customer, is also subject to very specific international laws. Not only could we blow the specific hosting facility to hell we could seize every asset within the reach of our law.

But even better still would be for us to have dealt with the situation long before it hit the front page of the NYT. Don't we have any goddamned spies anymore? We should have stuck a shiv in his worthless ass after he explained in loving detail exactly where he got the documents, where every known copy was etc in exchange for a fast death instead of a long slow one, all quiet and off the public radar.

Lame title (2, Insightful)

noh8rz7 (2706405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990141)

The title of the post should be, "In Vietnam: being a blogger could land you in jail; setting yourself on fire could cost you your life".

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990149)

And yet you can blithely say that, posting logged in to your account, with full knowledge that your IP address and user agent string are being logged, and yet still have no fear that the US government will ever come hunting you down for your disparaging remarks.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990231)

still have no fear that the US government will ever come hunting you down for your disparaging remarks.

Yet. If we engage in other constitutionally protected rights, such as the right to peaceably assemble, we can reasonably expect to be arrested for it. Thousands of people already have been.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1, Offtopic)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990477)

And yet there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have never been, and never will be arrested for peaceably assembling...

Also I think your definition of reasonably might be a bit unreasonable.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990777)

And yet there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have never been, and never will be arrested for peaceably assembling...

That's probably because we don't have enough police and prisons. To quote one police officer upon what happened when I asked why I was pulled over for going at the rate of traffic at a 13 mph speeding ticket,"We'd pull everyone over speeding, but we just don't have enough man power.". I'm torn as to what to do anymore when going the speed limit causes dangerous road conditions when everyone else is flying. It seems like the law is saying,"Even if you put people in danger, obey the speed limit."

I think we're currently in a battle for our constitutional freedoms currently. I don't like #OWS trying to invoke fear into anyone. I think they should stay loving and peaceful. This way when rogue corporate agents start violence and riotous behavior, the actual people in the movement could stop them. If #OWS isn't perceived as a riotous threat, then there should be little the police should do against peaceful protestors under the constitution.

Between judicial activism and politicians constantly overstepping their powers, it makes me wonder if politicians hold the constitution in disdain from preventing them to act like kings. I know any time they can say,"We're at war. Things are of such grave importance right now that collateral damage is unavoidable.", they basically are stating they should have a free pass to do anything. The highest authority in the land is not the president, it is the constitution. If politicians or policemen aren't obeying the constitution, they are trying to usurp a higher authority than themselves. Problem is if you tell someone with a baton that they're over stepping their authority, they'll probably overstep it more and violently arrest you for being a radical. It seems in the current atmosphere of cowboys and terrorists, people in authority kinda get off with their inflated ego of importance.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40992537)

Everyone else "flying" down the road is putting people in danger. How is going the speed limit going to put others in danger? They might rear end you, because they were going too fast to deal with someone going 13mph slower than them?

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990869)

still have no fear that the US government will ever come hunting you down for your disparaging remarks.

Yet. If we engage in other constitutionally protected rights, such as the right to peaceably assemble, we can reasonably expect to be arrested for it. Thousands of people already have been.

Arrested, and then free within a few hours. Vietnamese people are being thrown in prison for TWENTY YEARS, for writing on the internet. I think it is perhaps a bit egotistical to think you have problems worth mentioning in comparison. STFU?

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990959)

Not everyone who blogs in Vietnam ends up in jail just as not everyone who posts a comment like the parent ends up in jail in the US. You have to have certain gravity around what you are posting or else just attempt to shut you down will create that gravity. "They" are not that dumb not do such cost benefit analysis, they only act like dump when they think it helps them.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992093)

"Yet" is such a lazy cop-out. You can use it to insinuate absolutely anything, and never be proven wrong.

Lunatic: "Americans eat a dozen new-born babies every Thursday morning!"
Sane Person: "What? No they don't! There's no evidence of that, and moreover, it's physically impossible given the length of human pregnancy."
Lunatic: "Not yet, but just you wait. I saw a person eat a Big Mac last week; they'll start eating babies any day now."

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990309)

This is the third post of yours I've read today that's eased my misanthropy. Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990851)

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Re:"Sounds like the United States" (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990359)

And yet you can blithely say that, posting logged in to your account, with full knowledge that your IP address and user agent string are being logged, and yet still have no fear that the US government will ever come hunting you down for your disparaging remarks.

Spoken like someone who's never tried confronting an American politician or candidate [progressive.org] with an opinion [niemanwatchdog.org] they don't care for, [pjmedia.com] in person.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (3, Insightful)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990787)

Or this:

http://www.copblock.org/858/alaska-troopers-assault-man-with-anti-obama-sign/ [copblock.org]

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x6512746 [democratic...ground.com]

Free speech knows no party affiliation. Free speech suppression is universal by both Donkey and Elephant...

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990939)

A candidate for the U.S. Senate was in town for a discussion panel for which I was running sound (since I volunteer as an audio technician). After the panel, she came out on stage where I was coiling cables, and we had a lovely discussion on labor unions. We presented our positions, discussed the merits and shortcomings of union power, and eventually conceded that both employers and unions too often behave like infants. It was an insightful and interesting conversation.

This is one of several similar encounters I've had over the years, though the majority of discussions I've fallen into were with more local politicians. I doubt I could say I've "confronted" any of them, because I'm not going to go out of my way to be confrontational. Though it seems popular now to call any gaudy spectacle with a political motive a "protest", I prefer to submit my protests in a more effective and less offensive manner: calm and polite discourse.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991761)

Spoken like someone who's never tried confronting an American politician or candidate [progressive.org] with an opinion [niemanwatchdog.org] they don't care for, [pjmedia.com] in person

Freedom of speech doesn't guarantee you a specific audience or venue, nor does it offer protection when you force it.

Write an open letter to the politician with your grievances and publish it. When you get arrested for doing that, you'll have a legitimate gripe. If you just get ignored by everyone, that's probably a sign that your message wasn't particularly important and you were just being a jackass when you tried to force people to listen to you.

I'm willing to name names (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992687)

A long long time ago when Senator John Kerry was running for president, I was at a small event in Los Angeles.

In front of some local media, I confronted him about his "hockey goal" ad in which he (dressed as a goal keeper) said he would protect against Japanese imports. I said his ad (and the tone of his campaign) was contributing to the recent spike in anti-Asian American violence around the country (I'm Asian American).

He said he, of course, didn't mean for it to be construed that way and didn't mean to stigmatize hard working Asian Americans blah, blah. After that I don't think the ad was pulled or altered. However, I DID notice he would, when speaking about Asian imports, would often make a distinction between Asian competitors overseas and Asian citizens at home. Yay!

Even so I wholeheartedly agree that many politicians are lying, scheming scumbags only out for themselves. However censorship in the U.S. compared to some other countries? Give me a break. You're probably one of those people who like arguing for the sake of arguing and make the Internet (and the world) a miserable place to be in. Go away or become a lawyer.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991037)

I have to admit I am a bit afraid every time I post a pro liberty message. I have to travel by plane in a few weeks and it will be my first trip since 9/11. I am a bit curious if I'm flagged by the TSA. I'll let you know.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991447)

You'll let us know if you still can

FTFY

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991475)

I won't be detained. But I may get extra
scrutiny.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992711)

I travel 15-20 times a year (11-12 International trips, balance domestic) and have been very vocal about liberty, and active in the political community. No issues from TSA... I think you're assuming the US Government is more capable and intelligent than it really is...

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991567)

And yet you can blithely say that, posting logged in to your account, with full knowledge that your IP address and user agent string are being logged, and yet still have no fear that the US government will ever come hunting you down for your disparaging remarks.

Who needs to hunt? They can collect all they need to prosecute you courtesy of secret intercept rooms in the AT&T offices, etc. The only time they need to do any actual hunting is when someone decides you've said enough to be annnoying and wants to bring you in. By then it's a bit late.

Remember. Innocent people have nothing to hide, but they're not going to be asking YOU what determines who's "innocent".

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991701)

And yet you can blithely say that, posting logged in to your account, with full knowledge that your IP address and user agent string are being logged, and yet still have no fear that the US government will ever come hunting you down for your disparaging remarks.

Who needs to hunt? They can collect all they need to prosecute you courtesy of secret intercept rooms in the AT&T offices, etc. The only time they need to do any actual hunting is when someone decides you've said enough to be annnoying and wants to bring you in. By then it's a bit late.

Remember. Innocent people have nothing to hide, but they're not going to be asking YOU what determines who's "innocent".

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990211)

We're not just talking about Assange. We're talking about thousands of Americans who took to the streets last year to exercise their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Over 7000 [moonfruit.com] people have been arrested as part of OWS, including Presidential candidate Jill Stein [huffingtonpost.com] .

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990499)

Those 7000 where out of how many total protesters in the United States in 2011? In how many separate incidents did these arrests occur? What was the average arrest rate per event? You can throw out numbers like that and they seem shocking but in the big scheme of things it still comes out to be not really all that shocking, that is unless of course you are a total reactionary, which I have a feeling you are.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990721)

When the revolution is authoritarian, I'm proud to be reactionary. I want to take us back to a time when the Constitution was respected, and the law applied to rich and poor alike. When warrantless anything was unconscionable. When torture was punished no matter who the torturer was. When the rule of law still meant something.

Obama delivered big on the change, not so much on the hope.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

NouberNou (1105915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990799)

Ahhh... Too funny. I think you need to sit down and really think out your political views and what you want to see in society because you obviously are pretty confused and angry to think about anything rationally.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990949)

When the revolution is authoritarian, I'm proud to be reactionary. I want to take us back to a time when the Constitution was respected, and the law applied to rich and poor alike. When warrantless anything was unconscionable. When torture was punished no matter who the torturer was. When the rule of law still meant something.

Did you read History from Little Golden Books? There was never a time when the country resembled your fantasy.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991507)

When the revolution is authoritarian, I'm proud to be reactionary. I want to take us back to a time when the Constitution was respected, and the law applied to rich and poor alike. When warrantless anything was unconscionable. When torture was punished no matter who the torturer was. When the rule of law still meant something.

Did you read History from Little Golden Books? There was never a time when the country resembled your fantasy.

True, but we used to at least try to pretend it was that way. Now we don't even bother.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991011)

As someone who values liberty I find posts like yours a bit disturbing. There really was never a time in the past where everyone had liberty. There have been times where certain people had more than today. There were even times when the total liberty was greater. But unfortunately those times were also repressive for many. Talking about going back to a certain time is going to alienate a lot of people.

I suggest talking about liberty as an unknown ideal that we should progress towards. Talk about a government that respects people's lives and property will end up protecting everyone's rights. Talk about how law (force) should only be used to protect life and private property and how that will protect everyone's rights.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Dave Emami (237460) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991033)

We're not just talking about Assange. We're talking about thousands of Americans who took to the streets last year to exercise their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Over 7000 [moonfruit.com] people have been arrested as part of OWS, including Presidential candidate Jill Stein [huffingtonpost.com] .

To quote from the article you linked: "Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and her running mate have been arrested at a sit-in at a Philadelphia bank over housing foreclosures." She was arrested for trespassing, not for anything she was saying. Given the refusal of most leftists to make distinctions like that -- the conflation of "expression" or "protest" with "speech", and the attitude that their cause is so righteous that it absolves them of any need to respect the rights of others -- I would expect that the vast majority of those 7000 were arrested for how they tried to convey their message, not what that message was. Your speech rights don't entitle you to stay on private property when you're not welcome there, or to prevent your fellow citizens from using public property (say, by blocking sidewalks), to disturb the peace, or to vandalize.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991577)

  1. 1. Sell off almost all public land so that the right to assembly effectively no longer exists
  2. 2. ????
  3. 3. PROFIT!!

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Dave Emami (237460) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991963)

  1. 1. Sell off almost all public land so that the right to assembly effectively no longer exists

... except that Jill Stein was not trespassing at the bank because she lacked someplace to hold an assembly. She could have voiced her opinion elsewhere just fine. She was trespassing because she wanted to embarrass the bank and draw attention to herself. Her desire to accomplish those goals did not entitle her to violate the rights of others. She had no more right to hold a protest inside the bank than the bank would have to conduct business in her living room.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991065)

We're not just talking about Assange. We're talking about thousands of Americans who took to the streets last year to exercise their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Over 7000 [moonfruit.com] people have been arrested as part of OWS, including Presidential candidate Jill Stein [huffingtonpost.com] .

I've only followed it casually, but ISTM that the problems were almost entirely limited to a few cities (NYC, Okland) where the authorities decided they needed to take a proactively militant/confrontational approach to the protests. In my town the City Council basically said "more power to you".

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991081)

I'm moderately pro-OWS in their general goals (as hard to figure out as they are) but "peaceably assemble" != "camp out on public or private property for weeks at a time". If you think the founding fathers intended squatting or trespassing to be part of the First Amendment you are deluding yourself.

I'm sure there were plenty of cases of people being unjustly arrested (the occasional journalist was even detained for being at the wrong place at the wrong time) but Jill Stein in particular was NOT one of those. She was arrested after refusing to leave a bank lobby during a sit in. Again, not that I necessarily disagree with her message, but I do disagree with her expression of it. She had no more Constitutional right to "assemble" and then refuse to leave a private bank lobby than she would sitting down and refusing to leave your living room.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991617)

"peaceably assemble" != "camp out on public or private property for weeks at a time"

I think you will find that "camp out on public or private property for weeks at a time" does indeed meet the criteria of being a peaceful assembly.

If you think the founding fathers intended squatting or trespassing to be part of the First Amendment you are deluding yourself.

Why on earth do Americans still lionize a collection of individuals who had hundreds of slaves each? Why are these considered exemplary human beings? And it tends to be those most vocal about liberty who lionize them the most, which is quite hilarious when you consider said slave ownership.

I'm sure there were plenty of cases of people being unjustly arrested

Oh, never mind those, then. It's fine, really.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992203)

Why on earth do Americans still lionize a collection of individuals who had hundreds of slaves each? Why are these considered exemplary human beings? And it tends to be those most vocal about liberty who lionize them the most, which is quite hilarious when you consider said slave ownership.

First, your comment is an ad-hominem and is irrelevant to the discussion (and also an incorrect generalization - many of those at the Constitutional Convention had no slaves, and some were abolitionists).

And second, it was generally the opposite of my point, really. The real question is why do people try to interpret (or in your words, "lionize") a 230 year old document written by these individuals they seem to despise so *literally* without regard to societal and technological changes over time? You are somehow trying to attack me for pointing out the authors of the First Amendment would not consider this peaceable assembly while also trying to use their writing broadly to defend your point. It's inconsistent at best, and more like hypocritical.

Thirdly, refusing to leave someone's PRIVATE property (especially inside their building or residence) is not and has never been considered "peaceful assembly" by the Federal government. It's called trespassing. If you disagree, cite examples if you can...

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991233)

And amazingly enough, with all the Tea Party protests going on the year before that with even greater numbers people weren't arrested in large numbers due to being somewhat respectful of others and not committing crimes while gathering. The only ugliness with the Tea Party people were those calling them names.

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992727)

Yes, the OWS movement... Your right to peaceably assemble stops when it interferes with the right of free movement of tens of thousands of others...

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991363)

Back in Soviet days, an American tourist in Moscow decided to find out whether everything that was being said about USSR in American newspapers is true. So he stopped a passer-by and asked him if he has freedom of speech.

"What's freedom of speech?", the Russian asked.

"Well, for example, I can go straight to White House in Washington, and shout 'Reagan is an asshole', and nothing whatsoever will happen to me - that's freedom of speech."

"Oh, in that case, we have freedom of speech, too. I can go straight to the middle of the Red Square, and shout 'Reagan is an asshole' to my heart's content - and nothing whatsoever will happen to me, either."

Re:"Sounds like the United States" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991671)

That's a pretty worthless story.

No, I am not a blogger (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990013)

Let's hope they learn how to use proxies and to remain anonymous.

freedom of speech: Vietnam Edition (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990025)

You're free to talk about anything you want to. Unless we don't like what you say, in which case we will lock you up or kill you. Have a nice day.

Funny how governments (usually of the oppressive variety) are deathly scared of people voicing their opinions of them or outing them publicly.

Just how oppressive is Vientnam's government? That's not one I usually hear tossed around with Cuba, North Korea etc. IMHO any government that makes it a crime to speak negatively in public about the government, ruling party, president, or king, is oppressive just from that alone.

Re:freedom of speech: Vietnam Edition (3, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990625)

You have to be somewhat subtle about political commentary. You can't just print it on the front page of the newspaper. However, there are certain soap operas on TV that are obviously thinly veiled criticism of government figures and policies. Corruption is rife, there's a bit gap between the richest and the poorest, health care is expensive but it doesn't bankrupt anyone, they're even stricter on drug crimes than US (death penalty for possession of over 500g). It's not a bad place to live if it's where you want to live, just different trade-offs.

Re:freedom of speech: Vietnam Edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40992397)

death penalty for posession of over 500g of any illegal drug?

Re:freedom of speech: Vietnam Edition (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990633)

We need to track abuses and publicize that tracking (UN Global Compact - Freedom of Speech [unglobalcompact.org] (click background to view a map)). We then need to make consistent PR moves against all forms of oppression - especially political freedoms. When a government restricts political freedoms they send a clear message: "Our grasp on power is tenuous, we are cowardly, and we fear our own people.". We need to send a message in return: "We support your people, but look down on your government. As long as you restrict political freedoms such as freedom of expression, everything you do will be tainted."

Shut off relations with them, bar their trade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991221)

and anyone who trades with them from selling in the US. You expected their evil government to play nice? We should have raised the north with nukes.

Insecure government = censorship (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992991)

The government here is afraid that its hold on power is weak and that it lacks/is losing legitimacy. After the Vietnam war of course, the government was all powerful and seen as the victorious savior of the country (against the world's greatest power no less!).

Now, more than a generation later, with a youthful population that was mostly born after the war those memories are fading.

So the government mainly tries to keep things stable while it quietly plunders (through corruption) the country. It tries to defuse tensions by being very tentative with its actions; when some farmers killed some police who were reappropriating their land, the central government first hauled the local police/officials into court to charge them with illegal trespass (or something like that). Then they got the farmers. Laws are usually first proposed (I think) and then, depending on the reaction, implemented (or not). It can make for a confusing regulatory situation.

This of course, is very unlike China which rules with an iron fist. They put down a huge number of violent "incidents" (protests involving more than 500 people) every year. This allows them to push through projects at a mindboggling speed (need a neighborhood cleared for a highway or polluting factory? No problem!) The stakes are very very high in China and they're playing for keeps.

Getting back to the Vietnamese government: censorship is done out of insecurity that it will allow enough people to mass together (I guess this is always the case). Their blocking of some social media though is surprisingly weak, many Vietnamese friends I know use Facebook and access YouTube constantly, so there doesn't seem to be a "Great Firewall of Vietnam". Then again due to rising prosperity tensions weren't too bad(?) so maybe they haven't needed to really enforce it (these sites have been blocked from time to time). So actually I don't think censorship is as bad, as say China. (See below the post about indirect criticism of the government on traditional media).

Unfortunately for the government, the economy is really tanking now and they don't seem to have an external enemy they can focus the public's attention on. Their one great international dispute is with China over the Spratly and Paracell Islands (and the rest of the "South China" sea). However, unlike their previous war with China in the 70s, they are going to their heads handed back to them on a platter if they escalate this militarily (the Chinese are now, by far, the dominant regional military power).

With a very large gap between rich and poor (I see Rolls Royces, Bentlys and Maybachs here which, after tax can cost up to a million US in a country with a per cap income of about 1K per year), and a depressed economy, the government may welll start to really censor social media.

I say (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990067)

We go to WAR!!! That will teach them.

Re:I say (2)

mehaiku (754091) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990371)

We could bring Freedom
And Democracy to them
If they had some oil

Re:I say (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991079)

We go to WAR!!! That will teach them.

We're talking about blogs, not oil reserves.

Meet your developing world net freedom activists (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990101)

Some folks who do good work in the less-famous parts of the Internet:

https://www.theengineroom.org/ [theengineroom.org]

http://opennet.net/ [opennet.net]

http://globalintegrity.org/ [globalintegrity.org]

https://www.eff.org/ [eff.org]

Disclosure: I've worked for two of these, though not recently.

Being any blogger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990251)

Also if you blog about what you had for breakfast this morning?

Where is the Supreme Court? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990253)

If freedom of speech is enshrined in the Viet Constitution, why isn't the Supreme Court (or equivalent) releasing these people and protecting the constitutional law?

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (2)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990277)

"Dammit! I KNEW we forgot something...."

- Vietnamese Constitution authors

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990421)

Same reason it's happening in America. Gov't likes the power. The only difference is that the US gov't hides it better. For example, there are actually lists of topics that churches are not allowed to preach about. One of them is politics.

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990901)

For example, there are actually lists of topics that churches are not allowed to preach about. One of them is politics.

I've yet to see a church not preaching about politics. Or do you mean Vietnamese churches?

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991087)

Same reason it's happening in America. Gov't likes the power. The only difference is that the US gov't hides it better. For example, there are actually lists of topics that churches are not allowed to preach about. One of them is politics.

AIUI, that's just for maintaining their tax exempt status.

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991297)

Freedom of speech was also enshrined in the constitution of the USSR (even the one that was enacted under Stalin in 1933), and is enshrined today in the constitution of China.

Any constitution is just a piece of paper, unless enough people believe otherwise, and unless those people are willing to act on their beliefs.

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991527)

Ever read the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)? It was quite high-minded.

Sometimes a constitution is just a piece of paper.

Re:Where is the Supreme Court? (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992805)

If freedom of speech is enshrined in the Viet Constitution, why isn't the Supreme Court (or equivalent) releasing these people and protecting the constitutional law?

Much like here in China (I split time between the US and China), freedom of speech is enshrined in the Vietnamese constitution. However, just like the US, it does not protect you from negative results from your speech - like shouting "FIRE!" in a movie theater in the US will get you arrested. In these fascist oligarchical countries (China and Vietnam) they stretch the negative results to include "political instability" and "lack of faith in the central Government". So you can speak all you want, but if it's determined to foment political instability, then it will be interpreted as generally hurting everyone else and thus you pay the price for the results of your actions.

In the US, we tend to be more liberal in what we interpret as "negative results" of free speech, but you can bet if you published a manifesto detailing your plan to assassinate the President, blow up Congress, and eliminate the Supreme Court that you'll have a heck of a lot of scrutiny and possible legal repercussions as well...

Moral of the Sroty... (0)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990289)

Moral of the story?

Dont say bad things against the government in a blog.

DISCLAIMER (1)

menno_h (2670089) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990321)

Our blogging service will not be held responsible for blog-induced damage to life, limb and human rights if the name of the country in which the blogging took place includes any of the following words; 'people', 'republic' or 'democratic', unless multiple nongovernmental proxies and an up to date Liberte Linux live cd are used.

Curbing Nationalism (1)

D H NG (779318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990345)

The Vietnamese government has a fine line to tread. Due to the current territorial [wikipedia.org] disputes [wikipedia.org] with China, there is a resurgence of Sinophobia among the populace in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government doesn't want to antagonize the Chinese government and jeopardize a huge trading relationship, but it also doesn't want to appear to be caving to the Chinese. It had shown remarkable restraints in allowing anti-China protests to proceed, but recently it had been curbing them because the protestors attention is now focussing on the government itself.

Misleading Title (4, Informative)

Dean Edmonds (189342) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990361)

The title of this article claims that being a blogger in Vietnam could cost you your life. But the only person to lose their life was a non-blogger who set herself on fire in protest at the new law. So a more accurate title would be, "In Vietnam: Being a Blogger Could Land You In Jail. Setting Yourself On Fire Could Cost You Your Life".

Re:Misleading Title (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991111)

The title of this article claims that being a blogger in Vietnam could cost you your life. But the only person to lose their life was a non-blogger who set herself on fire in protest at the new law. So a more accurate title would be, "In Vietnam: Being a Blogger Could Land You In Jail. Setting Yourself On Fire Could Cost You Your Life".

Or: "Being a Blogger Could Cost Someone Else Their Life by a Rather Indirect Mechanism".

Re:Misleading Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991529)

So a legal Rube Goldberg machine?

Re:Misleading Title (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992811)

And thus Government could execute the blogger as well, for involuntary homicide?

Re:Misleading Title (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991303)

Sorry, quite a few of bloggers have disappeared over the years with flimsy 'evidences' for their 'crimes' or even without trial at all. A famous blogger was arrested first by the law against adultery, the 'evidence' was 2 used condoms. And after he was arrested, the police raided his house and 'found' some evidence on his computer that he violated the 88 article (propaganda against the government), and now he is sentenced for ~6 years in jail. Many other bloggers have been jailed in the similar way, and there has been no news regarding their lives for their families, nobody knows if they are still alive or already dead.

And that is not all, many were defamed on state media, while they have even been prosecuted by law. So what did they do? Outspoken against corruption, illegal land grabbing of local authority and participated in recent anti-china demonstrations. That is not all, the local police will do everything to make your life miserable: your children won't be able to study in university, you will face harder problem finding a job and sometimes they even hire thug to beat you.

So in short, if they hate you, they can and will make you regret your decision and even worse, not only you, but also your family, your relatives etc... And why? They have seen what happened to the USSR and the recent Arab Spring revolution, they don't want it, that is for sure. But most if not all civil servants are now extremely corrupted, the economy is going down the hill, the inflation hit 23%, the people life is getting harder and harder everyday. Now what we need is a big reset button...

Posting anonymously for an obvious reason, it saddens me that a tech-oriented site such as slashdot still hasn't support https yet...

Waiting for the repenting... (-1, Troll)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990363)

This goes out to all those hippies who flew Viet Cong flags and were oh so sure that if the Evil Wicked Americans would just lose the Vietnam War that the peaceful VC would make a wonderful People's Republic and everything would be rainbow shitting unicorns... OK ASSHOLES, you got your wish. It has been a generation now, where is the paradise? Or you you ready to admit you were just traitors yet and that it wasn't even in a good cause? Eh? I can't hear you.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990457)

You really missed the whole point, didn't you? It wasn't our fight! Seriously, try and learn something from history.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (-1, Troll)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990935)

> You really missed the whole point, didn't you? It wasn't our fight!

No, it is you who are mistaken... about a great many things. "It isn't our fight." was one of the arguments against the war, one I admit can and was argued by people of good faith. It is a real question that you can have an honest debate over. I wasn't old enough to have been in that fight and hindsight is always 20/20 so redebating that one probably isn't much use now. However that wasn't the argument the bulk of the professional 'anti-war' left were engaging in. They weren't against war, they weren't even against that specific war, they were pro VC. They didn't just want US forces out they were very vocal in declaring their love of the VC and their hope the VC would defeat us.

When you march under the VC flag, it is hard to then argue you weren't on their side. When Hanoi Jane goes and entertains the enemy's troops and isn't denounced by any notable 'anti-war' leaders or even famous rank and file, you cannot then argue that that whole movement was not in fact on the VC side.

So I say again to all the hippies who were on that side; Are you still happy to have been on that side? Is killing bloggers who oppose the State something you only support when they do it over there or are you waiting for your King Putt to bring the practice home to here?

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991205)

hindsight is always 20/20

It didn't take much hindsight to realize that the USA took over a failed French colonial war. And tried to prop a brutal dictator.

It also doesn't take much wit to find a few basic facts with Teh Google, though you've apparently only got half enough.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (0)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991327)

If you read on South Vietnam before the war, you'd realize that it wasn't any better than VC - worse in many respects, in fact. There was a reason why VC had wide popular support even in the South (which made their guerrilla campaign there possible).

Doesn't mean that one should have supported VC back then. But then most protesters didn't. Your claims about "bulk anti-war left marching under the VC flag" is a flat out lie. You construct a strawman and then proceed to demolish it.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (0)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991665)

> But then most protesters didn't. Your claims about "bulk anti-war left marching under the VC flag" is a flat out lie.

Rare was the big 'anti-war' protest without a few VC flags around. So riddle me this, why was that allowed? Now for a harder question, I know you won't answer honest but anyone else reading this will know it is the killing stroke against the argument you will make that "a couple of knuckleheads doesn't mean the movement was tainted."

Can you, with a straight face, tell me that the same 'a few knuckleheads' argument would have worked if the Tea Party protests of late had featured regular appearances by anything nearly so repellent; with NO denunciation from any of the leaders of the movement? Lets say a few rogue progressives like Nazis or the Klan or their more knuckledragging White Power associates. Oh wait, we KNOW how that worked out. It didn't happen as a general rule and the couple of times some idiot (usually tracable back to plants from lefty orgs) tried something like that the rest of the organization quickly dealt with the clowns. But the media and the progs (but I repeat myself) declared they were all racists anyway. So I'm pulling a page from Saul Alinsky and making you bastards live up to your own book of rules.

Oh, and Alinsky was a pro VC sort. Bill Ayers certainly was. And had he have been old enough it is a veritable certainty that Mr. "Gotta be sure to be seen with the campus Marxists lest I be thought a sellout" Obama would have been one.

Google gave me these in a matter of two tries, it ain't hard to find. It was the rare protest that didn't feature a VC flag. It was about as trendy as a Che t-shirt today, another celebration of a mass murdering communist thug. It never ends.

1. http://www.itnsource.com/shotlist//BHC_ITN/1965/12/01/X01126501/#popUpCenter [itnsource.com]

2. http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/WL001929/antiwar-protester-raising-a-vietcong-flag [corbisimages.com]

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990489)

Are you off your meds again?

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991231)

Are you off your meds again?

Probably he's sitting in his rocker, listening to Barry Sadler and having traumatic flashbacks about some Damn Hippie that spit on him when he was home on leave in 1968.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990519)

This goes out to all those hippies who flew Viet Cong flags and were oh so sure that if the Evil Wicked Americans would just lose the Vietnam War that the peaceful VC would make a wonderful People's Republic and everything would be rainbow shitting unicorns... OK ASSHOLES, you got your wish. It has been a generation now, where is the paradise? Or you you ready to admit you were just traitors yet and that it wasn't even in a good cause? Eh? I can't hear you.

Aren't you late to your John Birch Society meeting?

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990913)

This goes out to all those hippies who flew Viet Cong flags and were oh so sure that if the Evil Wicked Americans would just lose the Vietnam War that the peaceful VC would make a wonderful People's Republic and everything would be rainbow shitting unicorns... OK ASSHOLES, you got your wish. It has been a generation now, where is the paradise? Or you you ready to admit you were just traitors yet and that it wasn't even in a good cause? Eh? I can't hear you.

I'm sure all those hippies are shaking their heads and saying, "oh, what fools we were."

Oh, sorry, they're all in nursing homes now, and none of them remember what VC stands for. Shouldn't you be telling us to get off of your lawn?

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991133)

This goes out to all those hippies who flew Viet Cong flags and were oh so sure that if the Evil Wicked Americans would just lose the Vietnam War that the peaceful VC would make a wonderful People's Republic and everything would be rainbow shitting unicorns

Name a few?

Or you you ready to admit you were just traitors yet and that it wasn't even in a good cause?

Funny sentiment to express in a discussion about governments suppressing free speech.

Whose side are you on?

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (0)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991301)

mod parent up!

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991599)

This goes out to all those hippies who flew Viet Cong flags and were oh so sure that if the Evil Wicked Americans would just lose the Vietnam War that the peaceful VC would make a wonderful People's Republic and everything would be rainbow shitting unicorns... OK ASSHOLES, you got your wish. It has been a generation now, where is the paradise? Or you you ready to admit you were just traitors yet and that it wasn't even in a good cause? Eh? I can't hear you.

More like LALALA I CANT HEAR YOU, isn't it?

What I remember is that if we let Vietnam go, there would be a Domino Effect that would turn all of Asia Communist, followed by invasion of the USA and we'd all end up listening to some fat clown on the radio telling us how to think so we could echo it back.

And, BTW, I hope you're not wearing Nikes. Vietnam won the war, but the capitalists have been doing a pretty tidy job of subverting their goals, I'd say.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (0)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40992141)

> there would be a Domino Effect that would turn all of Asia Communist

Usually stated as SOUTHEAST Asia would fall. As in Cambodia and Laos, etc. And guess what, they did. Burma is also a hell on earth. Your team gets Pol Pot's body count added to the list of your crimes against humanity as a bonus. Thailand and Malaysia survived. There was never real doubt about South Korea or Japan after all. All in all a debacle of biblical proportion resulting in millions and millions in mass graves and more dead fleeing in overloaded leaky boats. Call that a happy ending if you can sleep at night after doing do, I won't.

Re:Waiting for the repenting... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40991829)

Forgive me for undercutting the basis for your idiotical ideological rant, but the VC don't run Viet Nam and never did. The government of the north disbanded them in 1975.

"Cost you your life"? (1)

neminem (561346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990399)

In traditional slashdot fashion, I'm posting this without actually reading the article rather than just the summary, but according to the summary, apparently what will cost you your life is if you decide to make a grand-but-probably-ultimately-pointless gesture and commit suicide to protest something, which is kind of tautologically true regardless of what you're protesting, or where.

Meanwhile, everyone also already knows that in Vietnam, you can get thrown in jail for doing just about anything, or nothing, so also in traditional slashdot fashion, I will say: "this is news?"

Heavy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990433)

Not sure how I'd feel about my mom killing herself by setting herself on fire to protest my detention.

nothing changed.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40990481)

Heh wake up.! It's still a communist country.. My heart aches for the 'people' of Vietnam. Still they suffer the worst.. After my tour there 67 and 68, I came to realize
how the little people suffered then, and still do today..

Western Governments do this too (3, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990505)

In the West jailing people for criticising the government would be unpopular, so they find more subtle but equally effective ways to do it. These silence not just bloggers, but journalists too: The easiest of these is libel laws. US Citizens are lucky that their Right to Free Speech is enshrined in the Constitution, but citizens in other supposedly liberal democracies have no such protection.

Libel Law: "In theory, the objective of defamation laws is to balance protection of individual reputation with freedom of expression. In practice, defamation laws are frequently used as a means of chilling speech. A threat of (costly) defamation proceedings and damages, whether or not a plaintiff's claim is likely to be upheld by a court, is often used to silence criticism not only by a particular person or group but also as a threat to others."
https://www.efa.org.au/Issues/Censor/defamation.html [efa.org.au]

The UK defamation bill will do little to stop corporations suing individuals and should include a public interest defence
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/jun/27/libel-reform-get-right-defamation-bill [guardian.co.uk]

UK Libel reform campaigners demand better public interest defence
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jun/27/libel-reform-campaigners-public-interest-defence [guardian.co.uk]

It doesn't affect only bloggers: Even journalists are restricted by what they can say:
http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Resources/medialaw_in_australia_02.html [thenewsmanual.net]

Explanation of UK Libel Law
http://www.urban75.org/info/libel.html [urban75.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_defamation_law [wikipedia.org]

The Australian Journalist's Defamation Checklist: Can you run this story?
http://www.hss.bond.edu.au/defamkit/ [bond.edu.au]

And if they report something embarassing to the Government, then it is jail time:
http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Resources/medialaw_in_australia_06.html [thenewsmanual.net]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Secrets_Act [wikipedia.org]
http://www.caslon.com.au/secrecyguide4.htm [caslon.com.au]

The government redacted 90% of the recent proposal to snoop on Internet Usage. You would think the public have a right to know, but it's National Security if they say it is:
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/no-minister-90-of-web-snoop-document-censored-to-stop--premature-unnecessary-debate-20100722-10mxo.html [smh.com.au]

unmod post (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40990569)

misclick needs to be reversed

Sic semper Marxismus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991437)

A repressive communist country?
How novel.

Re:Sic semper Marxismus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991751)

>he doesn't know what communism is!

While I never! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40991769)

A communist country limiting freedom of speech on the internet, while I never!

Revolution tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40992871)

I have great respect for anyone risking or sacrificing their life fighting this. However, it might be wiser to build support in secret as much as possible (I assume meeting in private and secure web communication (at least steganographic tactics) are possible). With enough support, anonymous threats followed by attacks on government infrastructure or assassination attempts will be more effective and cost fewer lives. Open protest is only for nations which tolerate such and your situation sounds much more like that of the Chinese than that of the Americans.

Tyrants tyrannize, what else is new? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40993011)

If they're feeling particularly evil, they'll make the daughter pay for the cost of extinguishment through extra labor in prison.

Another reason we need to have guns (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 2 years ago | (#40993067)

so that when these schmucks shows up the door we can give them at least some fight before we die.

Whoever managed to streamline delivery of automatic weapons into China, North Korea, Vietnam, Iran etc. and arm their rebels will be the richest man on earth.

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