Home Vietnam Continues Crackdown, Burmese Blogger Smuggles Poems: This Week in Online Tyranny

Vietnam Continues Crackdown, Burmese Blogger Smuggles Poems: This Week in Online Tyranny

Vietnamese bloggers continue to suffer harassment. Vietnam has gone gangbusters on busting bloggers and others in the last month or so. Two upcoming events may explain that. The Communist Party Congress, first in five years, is coming up in January. Second, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton is due in Ho Chi Minh City again in this week.

The latest blogger to be arrested is Le Nguyen Huong Tra. Co Gai Do Long, as she is known in the Vietnamese blogging world, was arrested October 23 for “defaming” a senior party official. Having already accused public security minister Nguyen Khanh Toan of nepotism for giving his allegedly drug-taking son a job. Now, she added, that same minister has been doling out favors to his son’s mistress.

Imprisoned Burmese blogger publishes poems. Nay Phone Latt, a young blogger swept up in the post-Saffron Revolution arrests in his country, has found a way to smuggle out his poetry. Reporters Without Borders has reported receiving a number of his poems, two of which you can read below, in both Burmese and English.

The poems are beautiful, the idiosyncratic English of his own translations adding to the tactility of the images and reality of the emotions.

Latt was arrested in January of 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in the aptly named Insein prison for his blog-based reporting of the anti-government, monk-led demonstrations in Burma the previous year. One of his posts was a poem, an acrostic. The first letter of each line read down spelled out, “Than Shwe is foolish with power.” Senior General Than Shwe is the leader of the junta that runs Burma as a dictatorship.

The PEN group gave Latt their 2010 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award later that year.

Poem images from RSF

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