Ridiculous: Vietnam Sentences Musicians To Jail For Songs That Protest Government Actions

from the freedom-isn't-free dept

We talk a lot about the importance of free speech here in the US, and worry tremendously about any efforts to chip away at such free speech rights. Even as we worry about how free speech issues are dealt with at home, we're very aware that most other countries have significantly less respect for basic free expression concepts. It's somewhat horrifying to learn that last week, a court in Vietnam sentenced two Vietnamese musicians to years in prison for writing, recording and posting online some "protest" songs:
Both were accused of posting songs on a Web site of Patriotic Youth, a opposition group based overseas. Mr. Tri, 34, who uses the stage name Viet Khang, has criticized the government in his songs for not taking a harder line against China in territorial disputes. A video for his song, "Viet Nam Toi Dau" ("Where Is My Vietnam?"), has become a YouTube hit, with 700,000 views. Mr. Binh, 37, recorded the song "Courage in the Prison" ("Nguc Toi Hien Ngang") in support of an imprisoned blogger, Nguyen Van Hai. The song urges people to mount nonviolent protests.
And we're not just talking about a few weeks in prison, either. Tri got four years and Binh got six years. Binh's situation is especially ridiculous since his song is about an equally ridiculous prison sentence for a blogger. Basic political dissent is important to any free society, and to completely lock people up over some rather straightforward protest songs (that don't advocate violence or anything like that) is really quite horrifying. The US, thankfully, has condemned these sentences, but this is an issue that more people need to know about and speak out about.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Richard (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:21am

    Silence

    Expect the "silence of the trolls" on this one...

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:57am

      Re: Silence

      It puts on the charade

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:22am

      Re: Silence

      Hmmm, maybe not enough coffee yet, but this "silence of the trolls" caused me to flash on "Silence of the Lambs" with the **AA's in the role of Hannibal Lecter...as I run screaming into the morning!

       

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    Ninja (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:24am

    The US, thankfully, has condemned these sentences, but this is an issue that more people need to know about and speak out about.

    The US condemning censorship and nothing is pretty much the same these days. Unfortunately.

    But yes, we must rise awareness specially among Vietnamese. But how?

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:31am

      Re:

      The US condemning censorship when they implement their own brand of censorship and other freedom of speech violations every day. Can anyone say hypocrisy?

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:34am

        Re: Re:

        Shit that's a fucking understatement. My government just keeps getting worse and worse.

        Gotta love the good ol

        Corporate States of RIAA,MPAA,Chevron,Toyota,General Motors,Carl's Jr,Apple,Sony,Orville Redenbacher,Mc Donald's,Chuck Mother Fucking Norris!

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Corporations are people my friend

           

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          The Real Michael, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 5:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Don't forget the banks.

          The US government is no position to condemn others for silencing political dissent. Protestors right here in our country were fenced in like caged animals, beaten, pepper-sprayed, tasered, tear gassed, arrested on trumped-up charges and held indefinitely without a trial.

           

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:30am

    Bob Dylan better not go to Vietnam, he'd get beheaded.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:34am

    In an ideologically driven political system, politicians are like priests with civil power, and this generally results in harsh treatment of those who commit blasphemy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:40am

    Ask Gary Glitter how Vietnam treats musicians.

     

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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:43am

    "The US, thankfully, has condemned these sentences, but this is an issue that more people need to know about and speak out about."
    Of course it did. It's appalled it gave these two individuals a trial rather than skip the process and keep them jailed indefinitely.

     

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    Lorpius Prime (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 3:59am

    Really?

    This story seems like a bad fit for Techdirt. My impression is that it's only here because these people published their dissent online. But the fact that they used the internet is incidental to their imprisonment: Vietnam oppresses all opposition, net-savvy or not. It's absolutely a tragedy, but it's not a new one for the Vietnamese.

    I don't know, maybe it'd be more appropriate to play up the hypocrisy of the US criticism of these arrests given the US' own treatment of online dissent (in the form of information leaks) lately. But as it is, it's just kind of an awkward story for this blog.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:08am

      Re: Really?

      What was the rhyme again?

      "They came for the Gypsies, and I did not speak up, for I was not one of them.

      "They came for the Jews, but I did not speak up, for I was not one of them.

      "They came for the Communists, but I did not speak, for I was not one of them.

      "They came for me, but there was no-one to speak for me."

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:37am

        Re: Re: Really?

        its not uncommon for masnick to write about all sorts of subject not related to 'tech', for example mike talks alot about copyright, particularly music, he justifies this by stating (i guess) that technology is a part copyright issues.

        I dont feel they are, it's not an issue about technology, or the media the the music is on or transmitted.

        but he talk long and hard on the subject..

        as for this case, again, there is only a thin connection between tech and the issue.

        I dont think, these two people should be emprisioned, but the law in one country is not the US Law, standards are different, but the world certainly does not look to the US as an example of how to do it right..

        they, i am sure were fully aware of the fact they were breaking their countries laws, they acted anyway, willfull intent. They probably wont do it again !

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:46am

          Re: Re: Re: Really?

          There is not a big copyright problem in the technology sector?
          Get serious.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

            what is NOT 'in technology' then ??

            for something to be copyrighted, it has to be 'in a technology' right, be it 8-track, wax-tubes, CD's, DVD, broadcast, printing press !!!, so by definition, and reality, we've always had an issue with 'technology' and what is contained within it, it's not a modern problem, or a new problem, it's been the case as long as there has been technology, in fact it was the technology that LED to the development of copyright laws, to stop it's abuse.

            no, you get serious.. have a bit of a think, it will do you wonders.

             

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          Dionaea (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:54am

          Re: Re: Re: Really?

          BWAHAHA

          I'm not going to take your post seriously, your punctuation says enough about you. The only times you've used caps are for "I", "US" and US Law. And I'm not even sure that "L" is supposed to be capitalized.

          "standards are different"

          The Nazi's had different standards too, 'nuff said.

           

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            Aztecian (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 7:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

            Well, I'm like whatever.

            However, thank you all for the quote of the day as far as I'm concerned: "standards are different".

            That is either the solution or the problem--I can't remember what we're working on. I suppose we all have our own conventions.

            I'm now confident we CAN all just get along...separately.

             

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      That One Guy (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:11am

      Yes, really

      Just because this is primarily a tech focused blog, doesn't mean that the writers, and especially the main writer/owner can't post non tech-based articles if they/he feel the subject is important enough to type something up covering it.

      As for the most probable reason it was posted? That's covered in the final sentence, here:

      '...but this is an issue that more people need to know about and speak out about.'

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:50am

        Re: Yes, really

        Why does the New York Times writes stories about things that have nothing to do with time? It is simply ludicrous that they allow such an atrocity and someone ought to do something about it.

         

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          Michael, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 5:12am

          Re: Re: Yes, really

          They also frequently write about world events that are nowhere near New York.

          We have to stop it...for the children!

           

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        Chosen Reject (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 11:10am

        Re: Yes, really

        I came here for the latest information on soil compaction analysis. What the heck, Mike? Why you disappoint?

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

        Re: Yes, really

        Mike himself has complained many times about people reacting differently to some behavior simply because it happens "on the internet". This reminds me of that. Vietnam's been locking up dissenters for 40 years and more. But now that they've arrested some internet people, it merits attention on Techdirt?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:22am

    They're just condemning the fact that there's two more dissidents they didn't get a chance to jail.

     

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      Michael, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 5:15am

      Re:

      The US does not jail people for making up songs with politically dissenting opinions.

      The US jails people for telling the truth about situations that are politically embarrassing. I'm sure if the songs were about a true event, the US would be completely behind throwing them in jail for whistle-blowing.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:29am

    and how long do you think it will be before this kind of treatment happens in so-called democratic countries of 'the free world'? people are jailed now for bringing to public attention what various governments are doing to citizens who 'blew the whistle', how people are made to accept 'lesser charges, but still jailed' for doing nothing wrong. how these governments are implementing more and more surveillance and bowing to the will of powerful corporations, instead of protecting the people

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:55am

      Re:

      Would Country Joe and the Fish be incarcerated in the political climate of today?

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      and how long do you think it will be before this kind of treatment happens in so-called democratic countries of 'the free world'?


      The US, at least, has done this for a long time. *cough* Eugene Debs *cough*.

       

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    Lennart Regebro, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 4:50am

    Yes, Vietnam is a totalitarian dictatorship. What's new?

     

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    Wilson Regis, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 5:32am

    "We talk a lot about the importance of free speech here in the US..."

    Yes, we "talk" a lot about it, but just try being active in a left wing movement in this country (for example) and see how quickly a) the government opens a "file" on you and b) your group gets infiltrated by government agents. The idea of free speech in the US is a myth that has never really existed in the way that many naive folks like to imagine. Yes many forms of speech are well tolerated but as soon as you tread on the interests of those in power you still become a target.

     

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      Mr. Applegate, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      Say it ain't so! Anymore I don't think you have to be active in a left wing movement for the government to 'have a file on you'. You just simply need to use, a phone, computer, or visit a public place, have a drivers licence, register to vote, or to carry a firearm. Better not buy cold medication (behind the counter), or ammo, or .... People would be truly appalled if they knew what information the government keeps on you.

      Of course it is not just the government. Without touching government systems I can probably find out in less than 3 minutes; where you live (and have lived); who you work for; how much you make; what your political leanings are; any blogs you post to; any medical problems you may have, or have had; your driving record; your criminal record; if you own a firearm (legally); your phone number(s); your email address(es); your complete credit history; and the list goes on.

      The more information I have about you (age, current address, DL#, SS#...)the more accurate the information I can obtain about you.

      The government, of course, can do much more, since they have access to even more data than I.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 8:38am

        Re: Re:

        Of course it is not just the government. Without touching government systems I can probably find out in less than 3 minutes; where you live (and have lived); who you work for; how much you make; what your political leanings are; any blogs you post to; any medical problems you may have, or have had; your driving record; your criminal record; if you own a firearm (legally); your phone number(s); your email address(es); your complete credit history; and the list goes on.

        BULLSHIT !!!!

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    You have to still realize that Vietnam is a Communist country that takes a hard line against any free speech freedoms. When you put that into perceptive then its not too out of this world. I'm not saying this is right but when you have non democratic country that has secret police out for this purpose, this will happen

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 10:00am

      Re:

      Why yes, they do. And that is ridiculous.

      When you have to guard your borders to keep your people IN, or you feel the need to jail anyone who speaks out about your system... then something in your system is horribly, horribly wrong.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    You have to still realize that Vietnam is a Communist country that takes a hard line against any free speech freedoms. When you put that into perceptive then its not too out of this world. I'm not saying this is right but when you have non democratic country that has secret police out for this purpose, this will happen

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Mason Wheeler, Nov 5th, 2012 @ 10:54am

    What free society?

    Basic political dissent is important to any free society, and to completely lock people up over some rather straightforward protest songs (that don't advocate violence or anything like that) is really quite horrifying.


    Yes, except one little detail: Vietnam is not a free society; they're a Communist state with a single-party government.

     

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    relghuar, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:18am

    Basic political dissent is important to any free society...

    Ah, so THAT's why the governments all around the world hate it so much! Thanks for clearing that, it's been puzzling me for a while.

     

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