Vietnam Communists Fire Critical Journalists

Vietnamese
Communist Party authorities are to fire two editors at a national newspaper
that published articles critical of the government’s policy, sources at the
paper said Wednesday.

    “What
we see is a worrying trend,” said Marie-Louise Thaning, counselor at Sweden‘s embassy in Hanoi. She said Sweden would emphasize to
Vietnamese officials the importance of “an open society, which requires a
free and independent media that is allowed to raise the voice of concern from
the public.”

     Dai Doan
Ket is the voice of Vietnam‘s
Fatherland Front, a powerful patriotic organization affiliated with the
Communist Party.

     Ngoc said
he and editor-in-chief Ly Tien Dung had been notified of the decision by
Fatherland Front Secretary General Vu Trong Kim.

     The
decision reportedly says the paper violated the press law by publishing three
stories that conflicted with government and Communist Party policies.

     In early
2007, the paper published a piece by Christian priest and Fatherland Front
member Nguyen Thien Cam advocating making the Front independent of the
Communist Party.

     In November
2007, the paper ran a letter written by war hero General Vo Nguyen Giap,
opposing plans to build a new National Assembly building on a site where
archaeological remains of Hanoi‘s
ancient citadel were discovered, leading to months of dispute over the new
building in local media.

     Finally, an
opinion piece by veteran journalist Thai Duy in February argued that the
“foreign” character of Soviet-style socialism embraced by Vietnam‘s
National Assembly in 1975 had alienated the Vietnamese people from the Party.

     Vietnam‘s government disclaimed
responsibility for the firings, saying it was Fatherland Front’s decision.

     “We
did not intervene,” said vice minister Do Quy Doan of the Ministry of
Information and Communications, which oversees Vietnam‘s media.

     Fatherland
Front official Nguyen Van Vinh refused to comment.

     “I
don’t think the decisions are fair,” said a Dai Doan Ket reporter who
declined to be named. “They just aimed to punish brave journalists who
dared to point out Vietnam‘s
social injustices and government authoritarianism.”

     The firings
at Dai Doan Ket come two weeks after a Vietnamese court sentenced reporter
Nguyen Viet Chien to two years in prison, and fellow reporter Nguyen Van Hai to
two years of “re-education without detention,” for reporting on a
major corruption scandal.

     Last week
the European Parliament passed a resolution labeling Chien and Hai’s
convictions “an attack on the freedom of expression.” Rights
organizations including Amnesty International and Reporters Sans Frontieres
also strongly protested the sentences.

 

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