Blogging Politics in Vietnam 2003-2015

A timeline of Vietnam's blogging movement and related political events.

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Blogger Ta Phong Tan released from jail and arrives safely in U.S

In a surprise move that may be linked to closer US-Vietnam diplomatic ties, well-known prisoner of conscience Ta Phong Tan was released from prison and exiled to the US on 20 September 2015. Tan arrived in Los Angeles to a welcome committee headed by former colleague Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay)

Recently Freed Vietnamese Blogger Re-Launches Website, Dismisses ‘Quiet Life’

A prominent blogger and rights campaigner in Vietnam who served two years in prison for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state” has re-launched his website and vowed to continue his scrutiny of the country’s one-party communist government. Truong Duy Nhat, 51, was arrested in May 2013 and sentenced in March the following year under Article 258 of Vietnam’s penal code - a clause which rights groups say is deliberately vague and used to prosecute critics of the country’s leadership. (RFA)

Two young men arrested for creating anti-corruption Facebook fanpage

Two young men got arrested in Hai Phong city after creating a Facebook fanpage which gives advice on how to avoid traffic police.

Vietnam Foreign Affairs Ministry meets social media campaigners

"Embassy and me" is a social campaign created to report bad services and overcharging at Vietnamese embassies around the world. Launched in May 2015, the campaign succeeded in forcing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review embassy operations and tighten controls. On July 27, representatives of the campaign met with Ministry officials to submit a report, and the Ministry promised to address the issues raised and respond within ten days.

Youth Activist Nguyen Phi Detained by Security Police

Phước, who also goes by Nguyễn Phi, is a 23-year-old rapper and organizer for the zombie movement, a group mobilizing around dissenting rap lyrics and a logo of defiance. On July 11, Phuoc and his group prepared to attend an open meetup in Saigon. Outfitted in zombie t-shirts, they made their way to the meeting location on Nguyễn Huệ Boulevard in the middle of District 1, only to unexpectedly encountered security police. Phuoc was among the group of attendees escorted into waiting police vehicles and into custody. After 48 hours in custody, five police officers took Phuoc home and raided for zombie t-shirts. In the process, authorities confiscated his computer. (New America Media)

Tree campaign generates a response

The campaign to protest the planned cutting of 6,700 trees in Hanoi not only succeeded in halting the cull, but resulted in official warnings and demotions for several top Hanoi municipal officials, with one official asked to resign.

Activist Le Quoc Quan released

U.S.-trained lawyer Le Quoc Quan, one of the most famous political dissidents in Vietnam, on June 27 completed his two-and-half imprisonment on the fabricated tax evasion charge. Mr. Quan, who is an owner of a Hanoi-headquartered consultant company, was arrested in late 2012 with accusation of tax evasion. His younger brother and one female assistant were also held. Local and foreign observers said he was targeted due to numerous articles criticizing Vietnam’s government on human rights and religious freedom violations, bad economic management and weak response to China’s aggressiveness in the East Sea.(Vietnam Right Now)

Facebooker arrested for allegedly circulating gossip about celebrities

A facebooker, arising late last year and becoming famous for her entries revealing private life of celebrities, has been “urgently arrested” and had her residence searched, the Ministry of Public Security confirmed on June 12. She is the newest case being accused of violating Article 258 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. (Vietnam Right Now)

Vietnamese province overturns ban on Facebook use amid rebuke

Officials in a province in southern Vietnam have ordered the removal of a ban on the use of certain Facebook features, which some claimed was meant to prevent violations of the law and enhance work productivity, following public protests (Tuoi Tre News)

Nguyen Van Dai detained on propaganda charge

Vietnamese police have detained one of Vietnam’s most prominent human rights campaigners, Nguyen Van Dai, as he prepared to meet European Union representatives who are in Hanoi for a human rights dialogue with the government. The Ministry of Public Security said he had been arrested for spreading propaganda against the state under article 88 of the penal code. The former political prisoner is still suffering from injuries sustained in a severe beating by masked men on December 6; an attack thought to have been ordered by the authorities. (Vietnam Right Now

Chinese leader visit to Hanoi prompts more police violence

Tension is increasing in Hanoi on the eve of the visit by the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, with a significant increase in the number of attacks reported on activists and independent bloggers. An activist and photographer, Nguyen Lan Thang not only got harassed but also got most of his online accounts hacked. (Doan Trang)

Teenager dies in hospital after suspected police torture

A 17-year-old boy, Do Dang Du, has died in a Hanoi hospital after sustaining severe injuries while in police custody on a theft charge. Dozens of police officers were reported to be guarding the boy’s room when human rights activists attempted to visit him. The activists suspect he was beaten and tortured by police officers during his two months in detention. In March, a report by the Ministry of Public Security said 226 people died in detention centres around the country between October 2011 and September 2014. (Doan Trang)

Local Government ban on the use of certain Facebook features

The Chau Doc Bureau of Education and Training prohibites its officials, teachers, and students from liking, commenting on, and sharing posts related to politics, religion, policy and statuses that offend others. The document has met with strong opposition from the public, as it was exaggerated and not legally supported.

Teacher fined for calling province official ‘arrogant’ on Facebook

Authorities in An Giang Province have announced fines against a teacher and a public utility employee for insulting a provincial leader on Facebook. Le Thi Thuy Trang, a literature teacher at Long Xuyen High School and Huynh Nguyen Huy Phuc, an employee at the state-owned An Giang Electricity Company, have been ordered to pay VND5 million (US$223) each. The duo has insulted Vuong Binh Thanh, chairman of An Giang People’s Committee, on Facebook, according to the Department of Information and Communications. In October, Trang shared a news article about a central government’s proposal to have Thanh disciplined. She commented that he "looks arrogant,” local media reported. (Thanh Nien News)

Human rights lawyers ambushed by bikers

Two lawyers have been ambushed and beaten up by assailants riding motorcycles, after taking up the case of a teenager who died in police custody. The lawyers have been providing free legal assistance to the family of Do Dang Du, a 17-year-old boy who was taken to hospital in a coma, and later died, after being held in police custody for two months on a charge of petty theft. (Doan Trang)

Campaign stepped up against China visit

Activists in Vietnam have set up small protests against the visit of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, accusing China of aggression in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and of trying to meddle in Vietnamese politics. Again, some well-known activists were subjected to harassment and violence.

Vietnam passes law on Internet security amid rising cyberattacks

Vietnam’s lawmakers ratified a law on safety in the cyberworld on Nov 19, at a time when the country is at high risk of cyber attacks and already being impacted by hackers. The law on online information security, including regulations on preventing and fighting online terrorism, will take effect on July 1, 2016, according to the lawmaking National Assembly. (Tuoi Tre News)

Protest against Beijing Olympic 2008

Youth protest at the Olympic Torch Relay in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The scale of the protests is small.

Talawas

Talawas was founded in 2001 by writer Pham Thi Hoai. At first, Talawas focused on literature. Politics and social issues were added later. In 2009, Talawas became a forum and a blog. Talawas stopped operations in November 2010, but the archive is available online. With the motto of "respect different opinions" of the editorial board, talawas is considered one of the most reputable sites in Vietnam. Talawas archive was contributed by many Vietnamese well known intellectuals. Talawas also stores many Vietnamese literature works before 1975.

X-cafe

X-café is created inside a popular forum called ddth.com. X-cafe is place where people discuss social issues, and it quickly grows in popularity.

Yahoo! 360 blog service

Yahoo! 360 blog service launches and quickly becomes the most popular blog platform in Vietnam due to the wide use of Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Mail.

X-cafevn.org

After X-cafe box was terminated, the members of X-café create an independent forum called X-cafévn.org. Its philosophy is “To respect differences” and to encourage open dialogue on socio-political topics.

Blogger Dieu Cay arrested

Nguyễn Văn Hải, better known as Điếu Cày, is prosecuted by the government for tax evasion and "disseminating anti-state information and materials." His imprisonment was protested by several international human rights organizations including Amnesty International. On 21 October 2014, he was released after approximately 7 years imprison. (Wikipedia)

Independent Journalist Club established

The Free Journalists Network (FJVN) is founded by blogger Điếu Cày, Lê Xuân Lập, Huy Cường, Vũ Quốc Tú (blogger Uyên Vũ), and Ngô Thanh Tú (blogger Thiên Sầu). Joining later are Tạ Phong Tần (owner of the blog Công lý & Sự thật [Justice and Truth]), and Phan Thanh Hải (blogger AnhbaSG). From September 2007 to October 2010, when blogger AnhbaSG was detained, there were 421 articles published on this blog, of which 94 articles were written by FJVN members, while 327 articles were reposted from VOA, RFA, the 8406 bloc, Dân Luận, Thông Luận, Người Việt Online and other sources.

Paracel Data Center

A web resource is published with information on The Paracel Islands, also known as Xisha in Chinese and Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese. Many Vietnamese bloggers have focused on their government's handling of China and threats to Vietnamese sovereignty.

Blog Anh Ba Sàm

Anh Ba Sam created his first blog in September 2007 using Yahoo! 360 blog service. Anh Ba Sam's real name is Nguyen Huu Vinh, he is a former policeman. The blog was originally used as a means to store articles for his own reference, but the site soon became a platform for activists to share blog posts and other content critical of the government. Vietnamese bloggers have said that Ba Sam has traditionally been a forum for demonstrators staging anti-Chinese protests over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Anh Ba Sam is the son of Nguyen Huu Khieu -- a former labor minister, top Party member and ambassador to the former Soviet Union.

First anti-Chinese protest

The first anti-Chinese protest is held by bloggers and students in Hanoi and Saigon to oppose China’s decision to set up “Sansha City” to administer the Spratly and Paracel islands. This was one of the first large-scale street demonstrations since reunification in 1975.

Blog Osin by Huy Duc

San Truong (aka Huy Duc) is a freelance journalist based in Ho Chi Minh City who covers Vietnamese politics. After serving eight years as an officer in the Vietnamese army, fighting against the Chinese in 1979 and against the Khmer Rouge in the 1980s, he wrote for leading newspapers in Vietnam including Tuoi Tre and the Saigon Economic Times. As a journalist working in a state-controlled media system, his guiding principle has been to “push the line, but not cross the line,” by attacking corruption and promoting political reform. Until 2010, he published blogosin.org, which was the most popular blog in Vietnam.

Bauxite mine project leaked

News about the “great project” of bauxite mining in Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) begins to spread in both the mainstream media and on blogs. Some intellectuals issue the first petition urging a review of the project.

Dan Luan forum launched

Dân Luận is founded, with the aim of observing “neutrality, rationality, and pluralism.” Dân Luận shares a server with X-cafevn.org.

Blog "Change We Need"

A new political Yahoo! 360° blog, “Change We Need” (probably inspired by the campaign of US President Obama), becomes famous by directly attacking the bauxite mining project. The blog provides readers unverifiable information about the government and its relations with Chinese counterparts. “The Tay Nguyen bauxite mining project: a grave the Vietnamese communist regime digs for itself,” said one blog post.

Activist Tran Huynh Duy Thuc arrested

Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức (born 29 November 1966) is an engineer, entrepreneur and human rights activist. He was the founder and president of EIS, an international internet and telephone line provider. He is one of Amnesty International's prisoners of conscience. (Wikipedia)

http://bauxitevn.info

Professor Nguyễn Huệ Chi, elementary school teacher Phạm Toàn, and Dr. Nguyễn Thế Hùng establish a website critical of the bauxite mining project (http://bauxitevn.info). It was hacked and subject to denial of service attacks hundreds of times.

Blogger sues the Prime Minister

Lawyer/Activist Cù Huy Hà Vũ files a lawsuit against Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng for signing Decision no. 167/2007 approving the Tây Nguyên bauxite mining project.

Lawyer Le Cong Dinh arrested

Lê Công Định is a prominent Vietnamese lawyer who defended many high-profile human rights cases. He was critical of bauxite mining in the Central Highlands, and was arrested on 13 June 2009 for reasons of "national security," despite the protests of the international community. Le Cong Dinh is one of Amnesty International's prisoners of conscience. (Wikipedia)

Blog Free Lê Công Định

Blog appears that re-posts articles written by Le Cong Dinh and calls for his release.

Yahoo! 360 terminated

Yahoo! 360° is closed down permanently. The community of bloggers in Vietnam splits up. Some move to Yahoo! 360° Plus. Others choose Wordpress, Blogger, Multiply, Weblog, etc. Many new blogs on politics were created in 2009-2010 as a result of the closing of Yahoo! 360°: Quê Choa (http://quechoa.info), Trương Duy Nhất (http://truongduynhat.vn), Nguyễn Xuân Diện, etc. Quê Choa is the blog of Nguyễn Quang Lập, a fiction writer and screenwriter, whose humorous, even vulgar style was very popular. Trương Duy Nhất is a mainstream reporter, who declared that he quit journalism to focus only on blogging independently. Nguyễn Xuân Diện is a researcher on Vietnam’s ca trù (a Vietnamese folk song genre).

Blogger Nguoi Buon Gio detained

Bui Thanh Hieu, better known as "Nguoi buon gio" is detained for nine days.

Journalist Pham Doan Trang detained for 9 days

Pham Doan Trang is detained for nine days. Doan Trang later published the blog posts that inspired this timeline!

Blogger Me Nam detained

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, better known as blogger "Me Nam" is detained for nine days.

Facebook blocked (first time)

Facebook is blocked for the first time. Facebook users spread circumvention guidelines, greatly increasing knowledge on how to circumvent firewalls among Vietnamese computer users.

The rise of Facebook

Not long after Yahoo! 360 is terminated, Facebook becomes the most popular social network in Vietnam. Many activists move to Facebook, in part because it is harder for the government to censor pages within the Facebook architecture.

Facebook blocked (second time)

The second Facebook block is more substantial and effective than the first block.

DDOS attack

X-cafevn.org and Dân Luận are subjected to denial of service attacks for the first time, coinciding with the court trial of four political dissidents: Lê Công Định, Nguyễn Tiến Trung, Trần Huỳnh Duy Thức and Lê Thăng Long, all accused of “carrying out activities to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code.

Hacker attacks

Hacker group Sinh Tử Lệnh penetrates X-cafevn.org and Dân Luận, stealing private registrations of members and posting them at sinhtulenh.org. While this group has previously attacked and damaged independent blogs and websites, this is the first time they appear under the alias Sinh Tử Lệnh (Command of Life and Death).

Blog Dan Lam Bao appears

Danlambao is founded. Danlambao means “people doing journalism,” as opposed to a state-owned media. Dan Lam Bao is soon the most well-known independent media channel in Vietnam, publishing the writing of many activists. In 2012, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung directly ordered the police to attack and block access to Dan Lam Bao and two other sites for posting sensitive political information.

Hacking attacks

The blog Free Le Cong Dinh (the forerunner of Danlambao), Thư viện Hà Sĩ Phu, Thông Luận, Tiền Vệ, X-Cafe and Talawas are all hacked and made inaccessible.

Cu Huy Ha Vu arrested

On 5 November 2010, Vũ is arrested at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. Police claim to have arrested him with a woman who was not his wife, and photos are briefly posted showing a half-dressed Vũ with a blurred-out woman. Vũ's home and law office are subsequently searched. Officials later state Vu had "produced documents that opposed the State of Vietnam, employed propagandistic rhetoric as a form of a psychological warfare, demanded the overthrow of the regime and the realization of pluralism and a multiparty system." (Wikipedia)

PetroVietnam protests against the bidding

Vietnam National Petroleum Group (PetroVietnam) holds press conference to protest CNOOC and China’s bidding process of blocks in disputed waters

Blogger AnhbaSG arrested

Phan Thanh Hải (born 1969) is a Vietnamese blogger known as "Anhbasg" or "Anh Ba Sài Gòn." At the Free Journalists Club website, Phan discussed controversial topics including other dissidents, Vietnam's maritime border with China, and government corruption scandals. A lawyer by training, Phan was denied permission to practice due to his blogging and his involvement in protests. In 2007, he was arrested after a protest against the Beijing Olympics and later placed under police surveillance. In October 2010, he was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City and charged with disseminating anti-state information and materials. (Wikipedia)

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