Bloggers launch right to know campaign on Facebook

(VNRN) – In a massive show of force, Vietnamese bloggers and activists took to Facebook simultaneously on Vietnam’s National Day and launched a campaign for the people’s right to know, holding signs saying “I want to know” and asking for information that the government has been holding secret.

“Freedom of expression is closely linked to the right to access information,” the bloggers wrote in a statement published at the same time by bloggers on Facebook on Sep. 2. They assert that “every person has the right to receive information from the government such as national policies, activities by government offices and/or the ruling party in all areas: education, environment, health, social security, … or national sovereignty.”

The statement raised specific questions on relations between the governments of Vietnam and China, espcially the contents of the 1990 agreement made between Vietnam and China in Chengdu when the two communist countries re-established normal relations, soured since the 1979 border war. The agreement has been kept secret, leading to leaks and rumors including one claiming Vietnam would join China as an autonomous region.

The question was repeated on numerous Facebook pages including of prominent bloggers such as Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, popularly known as blogger Mẹ Nấm or Mother Mushroom), Nguyen Tien Trung (Nguyễn Tiến Trung), Rev. Phan Van Loi (Phan Văn Lợi).

Other questions were raised as well. “I want to know whose pockets the enormous profits from land grabs go to,” asked Trinh Ba Phuong (Trịnh Bá Phương), whose parents Trinh Ba Khiem and Can Thi Theu are being prosecuted in the Duong Noi land protest. He continued, “I want to know how many farmers will die of hunger after losing their means of production.”

“I want to know when prisoners of consience will be released,” asked Ton Van Anh, who joined with a similar picture from Poland. “I want to know why so many people die in police custody,” wrote one comment on Facebook.

So far, there has been no reaction from the government — something the bloggers have predicted. On their statement, they wrote, “Avoiding that basic right is something that only happens in a anti-democratic dictatorship.”

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