State violence v. citizen-journalists
As Vietnam’s media all follow the Communist Party’s orders, the only sources of independently-reported information are bloggers and citizen-journalists, who are being subjected to ever-harsher harsh forms of persecution including plainclothes police violence. To justify jailing them, the Party resorts increasingly to articles 79, 88 and 258 of the criminal code, under which “activities aimed at overthrowing the government,” “anti-state propaganda” and “abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to threaten the interests of the state” are punishable by long prison terms. Following the party leadership takeover headed by Nguyen Phu Trong, the level of terror has risen sharply in the past two years, with many citizen-journalists being jailed or expelled in connection with their posts. One was given a 20-year jail sentence in August 2018. At least 30 journalists and bloggers are now held in Vietnam’s jails, where mistreatment is common. Meanwhile, as Vietnam’s citizens become increasingly engaged online, the authorities have been refining their digital repressive methods. In December 2017, the military unveiled the existence of a 10,000-strong military cyber-warfare department called “Force 47,” which is tasked with defending the Party and targeting dissident bloggers. Under a new cyber-crime law that took effect at the start of 2019, foreign online platforms are required to store their Vietnamese user data on servers in Vietnam and surrender it to the authorities when required.
175 in 2018
75.05 in 2018