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The political police have been arresting and mistreating bloggers in Vietnam in recent days, both before and after an 8 December ceremony in Paris at which the Vietnam Human Rights Network and the France-Vietnam Solidarity Association paid tribute to Vietnamese bloggers.
Three activists in the fight for freedom, human rights and democracy – Le Quoc Quan, a human rights lawyer, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a blogger who heads Research for Democracy, and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, a blogger who defends workers rights – were awarded the 2013 Vietnam Human Rights Prize at the Paris ceremony, which Reporters Without Borders and other NGOs such as Lawyers Without Borders attended.
“We condemn the police violence against cyber-dissidents and netizens,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The only thing these disgraceful methods achieve is to demonstrate the weakness of the authorities, who are using all possible means to gag those speaking out against the regime.
“We congratulate the Vietnam Human Rights Prize laureates and we hope that this recognition will finally make the authorities understand the importance of freedom of expression and information. We reaffirm our unconditional support for Vietnam’s bloggers and we remind the authorities that their repressive methods are neither just nor effective.
“The Vietnam Human Rights Prize awards and the creation of a new network of young bloggers should make it clear to the Communist Party’s officials that the more they try to gag the media and independent news providers, the more the latter will respond with peaceful resistance and the more we will work with them to help news and information to flow freely in Vietnam.”
Reporters Without Borders was represented at the award ceremony by Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of its Asia-Pacific Desk, who spoke about the courage of Le Quoc Quan and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who are in prison because of the information they provided online.
Recorded statements by the blogger Huyn Thuc Vy, who won the 2012 prize and who has been the victim of police violence in the past, Le Quoc Quan’s wife and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc’s father were played during the ceremony.