Published in Mekong Review (Australia), 2021
On 5 January 2021, three of Vietnam’s best reporters—stringers for the BBC and other foreign media—were sentenced for up to fifteen years in prison, followed by three years of house arrest. Their crime lay in reporting the news about thugs in the streets and thugs in high office, what in Vietnam is condemned under Article 117 as ‘propaganda against the state’.
Pham Chi Dung, founder and president of Vietnam’s Independent Journalists Association (IJA) received the longest sentence (fifteen years). His two colleagues, Le Huu Minh Tuan and Nguyen Tuong Thuy, received eleven-year sentences. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, this brings to fifteen the number of Vietnamese journalists currently imprisoned.
I met Dung in Ho Chi Minh City in 2015, when he described himself as living ‘like a fish under the blade’. I wrote about it my book, Censorship in Vietnam, published two years later—from which the following is excerpted. Continue