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Reporters Without Borders today tried to hand a copy of its petition for the release of 35 bloggers and netizens detained in Vietnam – which already has more than 25,000 signatures ¬ – to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during his current visit to Paris.
The attempt came just two days after Reporters Without Borders published a damning report on censorship in Vietnam entitled "Vietnam: programmed death of freedom of information."
"Our requests for a formal meeting with the Vietnamese prime minister did not receive a reply," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "As the Vietnamese authorities turned a deaf ear, we tried to meet up with him as he moved around Paris, in particular, as he emerged from a meeting with the French private sector association MEDEF.
"During the ongoing ‘France-Vietnam Year' celebrations, dedicated above all to strengthening business ties, we think it is important to know about the deplorable state of freedom of information in Vietnam, where the authorities deal ruthlessly with anyone who calls for multiparty democracy, investigates Communist Party corruption or speaks out on environmental issues."
After being kept away from Prime Minister Dung by the many security personnel deployed by the French authorities, the Reporters Without Borders delegation went to the Vietnamese embassy and tried to hand in the petition there.
"Even if the Vietnamese authorities clearly do not want to read our latest report's damning content or hear the voices of the 25,000 people who signed the petition, we will not abandon our just and legitimate fight on behalf of Vietnam's bloggers and independent news providers," Deloire added.
"It is more urgent than ever to spread information about a country that has become the world's second biggest prison for netizens, after China."
Vietnam is ranked 172nd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and features in the 2013 "Enemies of the Internet" special report on surveillance.
The Reporters Without Borders exclusive report entitled "Vietnam: programmed death of freedom of information" is available in PDF format here.<br/>