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Bloggers face difficulties in Vietnam

Vietnamese bloggers have recently received awards in Paris for their human rights efforts in their home country, however, political police have been growing increasingly cruel toward these activists.

Human rights, freedom and democracy are among some of the most essential elements of a thriving society. While they are almost universally recognized as essentials around the world, they are disappointedly hard to come by in many parts of the globe.

This is particularly true of country's with repressive governments. Many writers and netizens have found that the Internet is a hugely enabling tool to share their experiences and voice their opinions about the state of their personal freedoms. However, governments have recognized this as well and seek to stop people from expressing their view.

Despite the threat of government action, many activists continue to engage in this discourse, which has been the cause of praise from some, and grounds for arrest to others.

Vietnamese bloggers recognized
This is certainly the case in Vietnam. According to Reporters Without Borders, three Vietnamese activists were recently recognized for their work in the country at a ceremony in Paris. The awards were given to human rights lawyer, Le Quoc Quan, and bloggers Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung.

Unfortunately, these activists were not able to attend the ceremony. This is because two of them, Le Quoc Quan and Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, are in prison, while the news source did not specify the whereabouts of Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung.

"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," said Reporters Without Borders. "We reaffirm our unconditional support for Vietnam's bloggers and we remind the authorities that their repressive methods are neither just nor effective."

Decrees create limitations
Part of the difficulties that these writer have experienced are a result of government decrees that limit what it is they are allowed to post.

According to the The Register, a UK publication, Decrees 174 and 72 limit blogs and social media from exchanging personal information and ban content that is critical of the government. Violation of these rules can lead to fines and even imprisonment.

Because of the harsh enforcement of rules such as these, Vietnam currently ranks at 172 out of 179 on the reporters without borders World Press Freedom rankings, making it only one spot better than China.

If these policies continue, societal freedom in the country is going to continue to be limited. Having open online freedom is essential to developing a strong democracy, and Vietnam needs to pursue these measures.

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