Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Vietnamese authorities have detained, arrested and convicted more than 30 on-line activists, for posting criticising the work of local authorities and the central government on websites and blogs. The Internet is now a place of repression, with Hanoi stepping up its controls to preserve the ideology and the power of the Communist Party. The latest clamp down was revealed by a report released in recent days by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), based in Paris, France, prepared in collaboration with the Vietnam Committee for Human Rights (VCHR) confirming "the growing attack" on freedom of expression in the Asian country.
The report shows that in Vietnam there is an active, vibrant and diversified network, composed of millions of blogs, which continue to multiply in spite of government censorship and repression.
Over the past two years, the arrests of bloggers and Internet charged with violations of "national security" have increased. Today - reads the report - at least 32 on-line activists are "locked up, charged or sentenced to jail terms for demonstrating their peaceful dissent or criticizing government policies." Seventeen of them were convicted on the basis of "draconian" Article 88 of the Criminal Code, which represses "propaganda against the state".
One jailed blogger, the 25 year-old Nguyen Hoang Vi is reported to have been sexually abused by the police, during an "identity check" in December 2012. The girl was near a court were another blogger was being tried. Catholic activists and bloggers have also been targeted by the Vietnamese justice system and were recently charged with "up to 13 years in prison."
Nguyen Huu Vinh was arrested in 2014 and charged with having "violated the state's interests." His assistant sentenced to three years in prison. Both say they are innocent. The "Ba Sam" blog published articles and essays against the Hanoi government, getting millions of views.
He must serve five years in prison. He was sentenced along with his assistant for having "violated the interests of the state" by publishing articles online. The defense lawyers argue that the trial was not democratic: "The accusation is based on false evidence, and under the current Penal Code Vinh is innocent."