This Week in Internet Censorship: activists and bloggers under fire, “cyber security” proposals, and surveillance tech exports
Good news finally arrives from Vietnam this week, as a Vietnamese court reduced the jail sentence of blogger and human rights activist Professor Pham Minh Hoang from three years to 17 months. He’ll be released from jail in January 2012, followed by the 3 years of house arrest he was originally sentenced with in August of this year. As we reported last August, Hanoi authorities arrested Professor Huang and accused him of damaging their country’s image, and a judge ruled that Hoang had been involved in activities to overthrow the government. Professor Hoang had written 33 articles on his blog under the pseudonym Phan Kien Quoc, writing about various social and political issues in his country, including advocating the need for his country to stop attacking the right to freedom of expression and uphold human rights in their country.
There has been a recent wave of excessive jail sentences given to those criticizing the Vietnamese Communist regime. His sentence was light compared to others however, both because he is dual citizen with France, and because he admitted that although he was a member to Viet Tan, he was not acting under the instruction of the banned pro-democracy group, which the state considers to be a terrorist organization. Vietnam continues to violate its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and even fails to follow its own constitutional articles guaranteeing freedom of expression and freedom of association.
In November, EFF joined human rights and digital freedom organizations in sending a joint letter to the Director General of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denouncing the Vietnamese government’s imprisonment of bloggers. We urged them to recognize Pham Minh Hoang’s human rights to freedom of expression and release him. We are heartened that this reduced sentence brings him several months closer to freedom.