Languages
Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 09:34 UK

Vietnam releases detained blogger

By Nga Pham
BBC Vietnamese Service

Vietnamese Communsit Party dance show under Ho Chi Minh portrait 1 Sept 09
The Vietnamese Communist Party has celebrated its 64th year in power.

A Vietnamese blogger detained by police has said she was freed after promising she would quit writing her blog, which has been critical of the government.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is the last of three bloggers recently detained and then released by police.

A Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the three had been arrested legally for national security reasons.

Analysts say the authorities want to prevent blogs becoming a news source and a tool for opposition groups.

On 27 August, blogger Bui Thanh Hieu, also known as Nguoi Buon Gio, was arrested in Hanoi.

Cyberspace represents a more formidable challenge because anonymous citizens can post their views and exchange ideas with others both inside and outside Vietnam
Carlyle Thayer, Australian Defence Force Academy

A day later journalist Pham Doan Trang, who worked for one of the most visited semi-official news websites in the country - VietnamNet, was also detained by the security police. She too ran a well-read personal blog.

Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested on 2 September in the central city of Nha Trang. All three have now been released.

Internet popularity

As official media generally stay silent on any subjects deemed sensitive and controversial by the ruling Communist Party, many Vietnamese have turned to the internet to share information and discuss topics of interest.

Analysts say the communist government fears it can not control the more than two million personal blogs in Vietnam as they become increasingly popular as an information medium.

"The Vietnam Communist Party and its security apparatus cannot tolerate matters they do not control. Territorial surveillance, bloc wardens and informers work when suspects are territorially based," says Vietnam analyst, Carlyle Thayer, from the Australian Defence Force Academy.

"Cyberspace represents a more formidable challenge because anonymous citizens can post their views and exchange ideas with others both inside and outside Vietnam."

Territorial disputes with Beijing over the Paracel and Spratly islands, alongside corruption and religious freedom, are among the most talked about topics.

The Vietnamese government does not want anti-China sentiments to get out of hand, but this is not the only reason for the authorities' concern.

Some people inside the country point out that blogs can also serve as a networking tool for groups with a different agenda from the Communist Party to organise face-to-face meetings.

"Online activities may make the authorities wary, but offline ones are what they're disturbed about," says a Ho Chi Minh City-based journalist who wishes to remain anonymous.

"They cannot control the internet, but they can and will punish whoever wants to act on the ideas they consider reactionary," the journalist says.

In his opinion, the latest developments might be part of the ongoing crackdown on political dissidents that saw dozens interrogated and detained in the last couple of months.

Among them are human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, businessman Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and democracy activist Nguyen Tien Trung.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
US call to free Vietnamese priest
02 Jul 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam holds high-profile lawyer
14 Jun 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Focus on Vietnam's press freedom
06 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam minister quizzed on graft
14 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Former Vietnam ministers on trial
17 Nov 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Vietnam
14 Dec 11 |  Country profiles


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific