“First critics, then bloggers, then poets, and now musicians. The international community can no longer stand by quietly as these free speech activists are picked off one by one by Vietnam’s security apparatus.”

Phil Robertson, Division Deputy Director, Human Rights Watch’s Asia* 

On October 30, 2012, a court in Vietnam sentenced two musicians, Vo Minh Tri, 34, and Tran Vu Anh Binh, 37, for writing and distributing protest songs. Apparently, under Vietnamese law, “musicians have to seek permission from censors before they broadcast their work to a public audience.” Vo Minh Tri, performing under the name of Viet Khang, criticized the government for lax treatment of China in territorial disputes in a song “Where is My Vietnam?” Tran Vu Anh Binh recorded a song “Courage in the Dark Prison” in support of an imprisoned dissident blogger urging nonviolent protests.

Tri was sentenced to four years, Binh was sentenced to six years. This decisions follows a crackdown by the Vietnamese government against political dissent. Musicians were in detention for ten month before the trial that lasted less than one day. Their plight attracted far less interest from the western news sources than the story of the detained and imprisoned Russian performers from the feminist group Pussy Riot.

Source: *International Business Times; The Global Dispatch.
Image above, a plea from Amnesty International to acquit the songwriters, issued before the trial.