A Vietnamese court sentenced the journalist and blogger Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu to eight years’ imprisonment on April 23. Dieu, who once worked for the state media, began investigating taboo subjects and posting articles on the Internet in order to put her fellow citizens in the picture. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for her immediate and unconditional release.
Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu’s trial in the People’s Court in Phu Yen province in the south-east of the country was rushed through in barely three hours. She was arrested in August last year and held at a secret location for three months. She was charged with conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 117 of the criminal code after posting stories and videos on her pages on Facebook and YouTube.
A former reporter at the Phu Yen Newspaper, an official organ of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Dieu had had her fill of propaganda and decided to provide her fellow citizens with independent and trustworthy news and information via the Internet. She tackled taboo subjects such as official corruption, pollution of the environment, human rights abuses and the lack of response by the Vietnamese Communist Party to intrusions by the Chinese Navy into Vietnamese waters.
“RSF demands the immediate release of Tran Thi Tuyet Dieu, whose severe sentence is another sign of the relentlessness with which the Vietnamese government cracks down on independent voices that attempt to keep independent journalism alive in the country,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“It is also proof of the nervousness of the Communist Party’s current leadership which prefers to eliminate the messengers rather than tackle society’s structural problems. Such contempt for freedom of the press grossly violates article 25 of the constitution of Vietnamese Socialist Republic.”
Dieu’s trial took place against the background of a tightening crackdown on the free flow of news and information in Vietnam surrounding the five-yearly Communist Party Congress held in January this year, which extended the mandate of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, embodiment of the party’s conservative wing.
Last week, RSF reported that police in the southern city of Can Tho had arrested three journalists, Doan Kien Giang, Nguyen Phuoc Trung Bao and Nguyen Thanh Nha, who contributed to the Facebook news page Bao Sach (“The Clean Newspaper”). They were charged with “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 131 of the criminal code.
Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.