Vietnamese Authorities Charge Political Bloggers With "Conducting Propaganda Against the State"
BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 23 2012
Vietnam is cracking down on politically active bloggers. Listed by Reporters Without Borders as an "enemy of the Internet," the government of this southeast Asian state routinely deploys police to arrest protesters and jail dissidents. Now three prominent political bloggers are scheduled to be tried on charges of "conducting propaganda against the state."
Reuters reports that the urban bloggers entered into an "unlikely alliance" with farmers who are battling police trying to appropriate their land by force to build luxury hotels. While the farmers stockpiled weapons for their battles with the police, they soon discovered, Reuters reports, that
…their most powerful weapon turned out to be the equipment they had set up with the help of Internet activists to record and broadcast the confrontation, which was ignored by state-controlled media.
Within hours of the fight on a clear April morning, video of several thousand police firing tear gas and beating farmers in the Van Giang district just east of Hanoi had gone viral.
Very soon after the confrontation between the police and the farmers of Van Giang, videos and still photos of the incident appeared on the blogs of popular political activists.
As resentment of the government's economic policies increases, activists are educating farmers about their rights and teaching them how to send photos and videos through their mobile phones.
Vietnamese bloggers and activists have not been deterred by the prospect of arrest and trial. They say that a strong online presence provides some protection from the authorities.
"Now that social networks are more popular, it's not so easy for the police to arrest people," said Le, using his Facebook nickname. "If the police make trouble, I just send a status message on Facebook and a lot of people will come."
Meanwhile, the trial of the three bloggers charged with creating propaganda against the state has been postponed, because the mother of one of the bloggers committed suicide by immolating herself.
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