Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vietnam's internet restrictions reported by Amnesty International

Amnesty International released a report describing efforts by the Vietnam government to monitor and restrict use of the internet for subversive purposes. According to an accompanying press release from AIUSA, "A climate of fear exists in Viet Nam, with people afraid to post information online and Internet cafe owners forced to inform on their customers, reveals a new report released today by Amnesty International. Individuals are harassed, detained and imprisoned for expressing their peaceful political views online, with fear of prosecution fuelling widespread self-censorship."

Nevertheless, it noted courageous individuals who have defied government controls and are "using the Internet to discuss human rights, as well as a fledgling democracy movement that is growing online." The report also describes the legal basis for internet repression in Vietnam.

In other censorship news from Vietnam, Reporters Without Borders reports today that two newspapers have been banned for one month for criticizing the poor quality of Vietnam's new currency: "weekly Thoi Dai (Time), which is published by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Associations, and the biweekly Cong Ly (Justice), published by the People’s Supreme Court." Another magazine, Kinh Doanh Va San Pham (Business and Products), was closed by the government for publishing an article on sexual potency (not clear how long this magazine will be closed).

RWB notes: "The closures follow the adoption of a decree in July 2006 that allows administrative measures to be taken against anyone publishing 'secrets' or 'harmful' information. The communist government did not appreciate the media’s active role in exposing a scandal about embezzlement of international funds within the transport ministry."

In Vietnam, all publications are government-owned, normally attached to a particular ministry or other government institution.

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