Vietnam’s Dirty Little War on Writers

by Genevieve Long for Media and Foreign Policy blog at the Foreign Policy Association

The media is often used by those with competing messages to disseminate information or dis-information. Sometimes, though, the message is a lie.

Vietnam is an unfortunate example of manipulating the media and choking free speech for their own destructive ends.

Just yesterday, several Vietnamese writers were given honors for their work under severe pressure from officials including harassment and imprisonment when Human Rights Watch (HRW) recognized the work of 6 Vietnamese writers among 42 from 20 countries.

HRW gives the Hellman/Hammett award every year to recognize courage in the face of political persecution, and said of the writers:

“Vietnamese writers are frequently harassed, or even jailed, for peacefully expressing their views,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch in a statement. “By honoring courageous writers who have suffered political persecution, lost their jobs, or even sacrificed their freedom, we hope to bring international attention to voices that the Vietnamese government is trying to silence.”

The Vietnamese awardees include blogger Bui Thanh Hieu, who writes under the name “Nguoi Buon Gio” (Wind Trader); Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a blogger known on the internet as “Me Nam” (Mother Mushroom); human rights activist Pham Van Troi, currently serving a four year prison sentence; Tran Duc Thach, a poet and military veteran, is currently serving a three-year prison sentence; teacher Vu Van Hung, currently serving a three-year prison term; and writer Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, currently serving a 42-month prison term.


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