Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today condemned a three-month ban on Sinh Vien Vietnam, a weekly youth magazine whose cover recently featured naked human statuettes and last year had a photo-montage of banknotes with the late President Ho Chi Minh’s head on them floating in a toilet bowl.
Calling on culture and information minister Pham Quang Nghi to reverse at once his 15 July suspension of Sinh Vien Vietnam, it said the ban showed how hard it was for the media to deal openly with certain topics in either words or pictures. It also urged the French embassy in Vietnam to lobby the government on behalf of the magazine, which it helps.
The culture ministry said the magazine had been suspended under articles 6 and 10 of the press law for printing "offensive" illustrations. Journalists on the magazine, which is published by the Ho Chi Minh Young Communist Association (linked to the ruling Communist Party), were ordered to make public self-criticism. The ban can be extended for a further period by the Party’s culture and ideology commission.
The 7 July issue cover showed a photo of two statuettes of a naked man and woman and the 20 May issue last year featured the Ho Chi Minh banknotes. The French news agency Agence France-Presse quoted a government official as saying the magazine had "used sensationalist means to get publicity."