Vietnamese authorities arrested two people on Monday for inciting public opinion over the way the government is handling an environmental disaster that has seen tons of dead fish wash up on the country’s Central Coast.
Minh Tam, 46, and Chu Manh Son, 27, were arrested on Monday after they visited the provinces hit hardest by the disaster, RFA’s Vietnamese Service has learned.
According to state television Tam and Son had gone to “interview local people, produce TV reports and post them on anti-state web sites.”
The arrests come as people took to the streets in major cities over the weekend in a rare show of protest over the way the government is handling the disaster.
There were demonstrations reported in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Da Nang. In Da Nang, police were reported to have intervened and broken up gatherings.
All of this over a steel mill protest! A local steel mill is accused of polluting the water with their waste and killing off the local fish causing a food shortage. For reporting on the protest and criticizing how the government handled the crisis, the bloggers were arrested. This isn’t the only time the government of Vietnam has cracked down on anti-state protests or blogs. Just this past March, 3 bloggers were given extremely harsh punishments for their independent journalism on anti-state topics.
The CPJ issued a public statement on the incident:
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest of two journalists amid a wider crackdown on dissent in Vietnam.
Police on May 1 arrested Chu Manh Son, a reporter with the local Catholic news service Good News for the Poor, and Truong Minh Tam, a citizen journalist with the Vietnam Path Movement civil-society group, as they reported on a mysterious ecological disaster that has seen tons of fish wash up on the shores of the country’s central coastal region.
Whether 40 years ago sitting on an anti-aircraft gun or nowadays sipping cocktails with the First Family, there are always those willing to report state propaganda but just like our veterans, there are people willing to stand up for whats right. Everywhere independent journalists world wide are being arrested for “anti-state” reporting. Thank God we still have our first amendment rights here in the USA. At least for the moment…