08/25/2015, 00.00
VIETNAM

Fresh out of prison Vietnamese blogger reboots website denouncing government abuses

Truong Duy Nhat continues his social commitment checking up on Communist leaders activities. In spite of two years in prison, he does not want "a quiet life" but steps up his civic engagement. He keeps the sites name and moves the server out of Vietnam.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - As promised in the hours following the release from prison, the 51 year old Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat has already rebooted his website and will continue  his commitment to civil society "monitoring the activities and decisions" taken by the ruling Communist leadership.

The famous human rights activist was released from prison in May after serving two years for violating Article 258 of the Penal Code which punishes "abuse of democratic freedoms"; a crime that can cost in some cases up to seven years in jail. Hanoi often exploits this rule – which is generic and used to target critical voices - to imprison dozens of activists, bloggers, personalities who fight for human rights and religious freedom in the Asian nation.

A prominent national media personality until 2011, he is famous for having given birth to a popular blog titled "A different point of view" (Mot Cach NHIN Khac). His writings offer a different view of from official media which is controlled by the authorities. In fact he was charged with encouraging ‘hate fueled debates’.

According to the indictment, Nhat published "false and defamatory" articles about leaders of the Communist Party in his blog. The website was shut down after his arrest and the authorities blocked access. In April of 2013 he had published an article calling on the Vietnamese leadership to resign en mass, because "it is time for the appointment of a new premier and a new Party Secretary".

Speaking to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the activist confirmed that he had already rebooted his blog and cares little for the threats he received while in prison. "First - he says - I want to reiterate the fact that I'm a journalist and a writer, so I cannot ignore what is happening in society." "I cannot choose - he adds - a quiet life just because I was in prison”.

He has kept the same website name, but changed hosts using a server outside of Vietnam, to make it "more international, stable and easy to maintain."

For several years, Vietnam has seen a harsh campaign by the government against dissidents, bloggers, religious leaders (including Buddhists), Catholic activists or entire communities.

Last year for example, media and government carried out a smear campaign in the Diocese of Vinh against the local bishop and faithful.

Repression also affects individuals, guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

According to the activist movement international Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently there are between 150 and 200 bloggers and activists detained in Vietnamese prisons, guilty of having wanted to exercise (and defend) basic human rights.

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