17 July 2003
Source: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris
RSF has condemned a three-month ban on the weekly youth magazine “Sinh Vien Vietnam”. The magazine’s cover recently featured naked human statuettes and, last year, displayed a photo-montage of banknotes with an image of late President Ho Chi Minh floating in a toilet bowl.
Calling on Culture and Information Minister Pham Quang Nghi to immediately reverse his 15 July 2003 suspension of “Sinh Vien Vietnam”, RSF said the ban illustrated the difficulty the media faces in dealing openly with certain topics in either words or pictures. The organisation also urged the French embassy in Vietnam to lobby the government on behalf of the magazine, which it supports.
The Culture Ministry said the magazine was suspended under Articles 6 and 10 of the press law for printing “offensive” illustrations. Journalists at the magazine, which is published by the Ho Chi Minh Young Communist Association (linked to the ruling Communist Party), were ordered to engage in public “self-criticism”. The ban can be extended by the Party’s Culture and Ideology Commission.
The magazine’s 7 July cover showed a photo of two statuettes of a naked man and woman and the 20 May 2002 issue featured the Ho Chi Minh banknotes. The Agence France-Presse news agency quoted a government official as saying the magazine had “used sensationalist means to get publicity.”