Joint statement on the kidnapping and detention of Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Quang A, and Bui Thi Minh Hang

The undersigned independent Vietnamese Civil Society Organizations strongly condemn the kidnapping and detention of three activists, Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Quang A, and Bui Thi Minh Hang by Vietnamese authorities on November 16, 2017.

The three activists were kidnapped right after their meeting with the European Union (EU) delegation in Hanoi. This meeting was held in preparation for the upcoming annual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue. The EU initiated this meeting by inviting the activists to come and provide their inputs on civil society development in Vietnam. In February this year, a delegation from the European Union Parliament’ Sub-Committee on Human Rights held a similar meeting with Vietnamese civil society actors, including the said activists.

During their detention, the activists were held incommunicado, and legal assistance was not allowed.

The activists were subsequently released with activist Pham Doan Trang being the last one released at midnight. Her cellphone was seized without her consent and to date, they remain in the police’s possession.

We reiterate herein our strong condemnation of the above-described illegal conduct committed by the Vietnamese police and other involved agencies. Their action is in direct violation of Vietnamese laws and other international treaties on human rights which Vietnam is a signatory of and has ratified.

The government’s treatment of the activists, through the illegal detention and unlawful taking of their personal property, is a direct attack on independent civil society and its development in Vietnam. At the same time, these conducts show the government’s willingness to disregard the rule of law and their own laws in their attempt to suppress independent voices.

We regard these types of conduct as a direct and extremely dangerous threat to the development of not just civil society organizations, but of Vietnamese society at large.

The protection of an individual’s human rights is the protection of everyone’s rights. We call on our citizens, communities, civil society organizations, international organizations, and governments to join us in condemning these conducts. We respectfully request the European Union to bring this matter as well as other grave matters in the past to the Vietnamese government.

Last, we demand the Vietnamese authorities to immediately cease their attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, open right away an investigation into the incident as mentioned above, and announce the findings to the public as soon as possible.

Jointly signed by:

Civil Society Forum

The Independent League of Vietnamese Writers

The Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam

Le Hieu Dang Club

Phan Tay Ho Club

Van Lang Group

Bauxite Vietnam Forum

Bau Bi Tuong Than Association

Vietnam Path Movement

Vietnam UPR Working Group

Green Trees

Free Citizens Community

The Network of Vietnamese Bloggers

The Project 88

Tieng Dan Viet Media

and number of Intellectuals, Writers, Artists and Journalists within and without Vietnam