[This post was authored by FMC Communications Intern Olivia Brown]
Vo Minh Tri (Viet Kang) and Tran Vu Anh Binh are Vietnamese protest musicians. Their songs combine militaristic percussion, traditional musical elements, lamenting vocals and saxophone and guitar solos, dealing with issues ranging from violent foreign invasions and territorial disputes to nonviolent protest. Their creativity reflects deep concern for the future of their country under the rule of an oppressive, speech-stifling government. Both artists have recently become victims of the oppression that they oppose, after YouTube videos featuring their protest music paired with images of war and oppression in Vietnam gained attention on YouTube.
Tri and Binh are some of the most recent victims in a long history of censorship in the arts. After their music videos were noticed by the Vietnamese government, they were charged with using propaganda to turn Vietnamese citizens against the government. Having been convicted, the two are now set to spend four and six years in prison, respectively. The U.S. State Department has called for their release, citing a history of oppression on the part of the Vietnamese government as well as a failure to comply with international standards for freedom of expression.
Washington – Last week AT&T admitted muting Pearl Jam’s political lyrics during its exclusive webcast of the band’s Lollapalooza show on Aug. 5. AT&T rightly apologized, said the silencing was a mistake by a content monitor, and claimed that the company "does not censor or edit performances." AT&T spokeswoman Tiffany Nels also told the Los Angeles Times that it uses the content monitors to block "excessive profanity." read more
"It’s time for every musician in America to demand protection from the telecommunications companies and their ‘self regulation.’ We need strong net neutrality laws to protect the openness of the Internet, or our music, our views, and our freedoms will be as silent as the second half of the muted Pearl Jam song."