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By On October 20, 2018

Vietnam dissident Khoi urges Facebook to protect freedom of expression

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) -

Mai Khoi, a dissident musician dubbed Vietnam's Lady Gaga, has appealed to Facebook's directors to safeguard freedom of expression as the government looks to bolster its control of the web.

With 53 million users, Facebook is extremely popular in Vietnam -- where the internet has become a battleground for activists like Khoi.

A controversial cybersecurity bill, due to come into effect in January, will require internet companies to remove "toxic" content and hand over user data if asked by the communist government to do so.

It also requires firms to host servers in-country, which has sparked fears of further government meddling.

"Protecting freedom of expression should be an official policy of Facebook, but sadly, it's not," Khoi told AFP during an interview at the city's airport.

&q uot;Facebook is the only space in Vietnam where we can talk freely, express our mind freely and we can access uncensored information, and sometimes organize the peaceful protests. That's why the government is scared. So now they try to control Facebook," she said.

"The crackdown is very heavy."

Banned from selling her CDs and organising concerts, Khoi performs secret gigs away from the watchful eyes of police -- and is now afraid of becoming an online target.

Facebook and Google have so far declined to comment on Vietnam's impending cybersecurity law, though rights groups have slammed the bill.

Khoi said during Friday's meeting with Facebook, she urged the company to prevent government supporters abusing the network's community standards to silence dissidents.

"Facebook said they already worked on this. But in reality, in Vietnam, many independent journalists and activists have their accounts locked and the post d eleted every day," she added.

Placed under informal house arrest in late 2017 after she brandished an anti-Donald Trump sign when the US president visited last year, Khoi was also banned from running in parliamentary elections a year earlier.

"I think Facebook should do the right thing to show what they do is protecting freedom of expression," Khoi said.

© 2018 AFP

Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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By On October 20, 2018

Vietnam vets welcomed home 50 years later

It’s better late than never, for dozens of Vietnam veterans right here on the first coast. Organizers of the Welcome Home Healing Conference say many of them faced a tough homecoming in the 1960s.

The veterans in attendance received pins and certificates thanking them for their services at Friday’s event at UNF.

The event, organized by Community Hospice and Palliative Care also gave veterans access to organizations and advocates, to help them cope with health problems and to receive the benefits they earned so many years ago.

“An event like this brings people together with other people who are maybe having the same challenges,” said Jimi Monahan, of Community Hospice and Palliative Care. “Part of it is just knowing they’re not alone, but the second part of it is having our professional organizations here and putting them in touch with them to provide services to them.”

< p>Among those in attendance was Navy veteran Joseph Hart, who told his fellow veterans he served alongside John McCain on the USS Forrestal, which suffered a massive fire off the coast of Vietnam in 1967. Over 100 sailors died.

"There's a tremendous amount of effect that people don't realize as a result being in those types of situations,” Hart said.

His PTSD is understandable, but what often surprises people is that the effects didn’t manifest until recently, he said.

"Sometimes they lay dormant for 50 years,” Hart said.

It’s something retired Army Col. Anne Johnson says happens more often than people realize.

"Definitely,” Johnson said. "One of the symptoms we look for is isolation.”

Johnson is also the clinical director of Gratitude America, which takes veterans on therapeutic retreats.

Johnson says events like these are crucial because veterans are more likely to open up to their brothers and s isters in arms.

"If you think about the military, think of it as a tribe,” Johnson said. “You've been very connected with a lot of these folks, and when you transition out of the military, it's almost like coming to a foreign country as an immigrant, and trying to figure out the civilian world."

Here among his fellow veterans, Hart started to realize he's not alone in his fight.

"It was amazing,” Hart said. “A whole new world opened up to me just to get a sense of peace.”

Click here to learn more about Community Hospice and Palliative Care

Click here to learn more about Gratitude America

Click here to learn more about the Red Cross Veterans Services

© 2018 WTLVSource: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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By On October 19, 2018

Vietnam releases, then exiles jailed Catholic blogger

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Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who is known as "Mother Mushroom," stands during her 2017 trial in Nha Trang. Vietnam has freed the well-known Catholic blogger and rights activist jailed two years ago for posting anti-government material on social media and forced her into exile in the United States. (CNS/Vietnam News Agency/EPA)

HANOI, Vietnam â€" Vietnam has freed a well-known Catholic blogger and rights activist jailed two years ago for posting anti-government material on social media and forced her into exile in the United States.

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Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as "Mother Mushroom," was driven from Prison Camp No. 5 in Vietnam's northern province of Thanh Hoa to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Oct. 17, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers said.

"Security officers only allowed Quynh to speak to officials from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi at the airport for five minutes before putting her on a flight at noon," the network said in a statement.

Quynh, 39, met her two children and mother, Nguyen Tuyet Lan, on the plane, which arrived in Houston the same day, ucanews.com reported.

"Quynh was freed after 2 years and 7 days in jail in Vietnam. A new stage in the life of a woman who fights tirelessly for human rights, national sovereignty and environmental protection will begin," the network said.

Quynh, a network co-founder, was serving a 10-year prison sente nce for publishing anti-government material and speaking out in support of political prisoners.

The blogger network said Quynh would continue her fight for human rights and democracy in Vietnam from the U.S.

"No one can defeat her will and dedication," it said.

Nguyen Van Dai, A Christian attorney who heads the Vietnam-based Brotherhood for Democracy, congratulated Quynh on being freed and arriving in the U.S.

Dai, a former political prisoner who was sent into exile in Germany in June, said he hoped Quynh would continue her fight for freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam.

Another former prisoner of conscience, Bui Thi Minh Hang, called on activists and the international community to pressure Vietnam into freeing jailed rights activist Tran Thi Nga, who she said was suffering from ill-treatment by inmates and officials at Gia Trung prison camp in Gia Lai province in Vietnam's central h ighlands.

Nga, a mother of two, is serving a nine-year prison term for spreading "anti-government propaganda."

"She has not seen her children or other family for the past three months," Hang said.Catholic blogger and rights activist jailed two years ago for posting anti-government material on social media and forced her into exile in the United States.

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AdvertisementSource: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam