On Thursday, police in Vietnam reported that a court had gaoled a 40-year-old man for two and a half years due to the comments included in his Facebook posts. This is the second Facebook-related imprisonment in the country in the past week.
According to the country’s Ministry of Public Security, Manh Dong allegedly “distorted the guidelines and policies of the party and the state, and defamed party and state leaders,” Reuters reported.
The conviction is reflective of Vietnam’s efforts to repress speech critical of the government. According to the ministry, Dong was guilty of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state,” as reported by Reuters. Further, according to police, his posts “hurt the prestige and leading role of the party and the state”.
Dong’s imprisonment comes just days after a similar sentence for Facebook posts. On Monday, 42-year-old Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, an activist, was sentenced to 27 months in gaol for “abusing democratic and freedom rights,” police said, stating that he had admitted to posting and sharing posts on Facebook over the past few years that authorities said criticised the country’s Communist Party.
And in May of this year, 56-year-old Vui Hieu Vo was sentenced to four and a half years in gaol for Facebook posts that allegedly “distorted” the country’s political state of affairs.
The country’s punishments for anti-government sentiment comes amid a greater crackdown on citizens’ online activity. A cybersecurity law approved by Vietnam lawmakers this year, which will go into effect in January, requires internet companies to store users’ personal information and data. It specifically states that tech companies are required to store this user data locally within data centres in the country.
“With the sweeping powers it grants the government to monitor online activity,” Clare Algar, Amnesty’s director of global operations, said in a statement Reuters reported, “this vote means there is now no safe place left in Vietnam for people to speak freely.”