Vietnam: Arbitrary detention of Nguyen Thuy Hanh

14/04/2021
Urgent Appeal

VNM 001 / 0421 / OBS 047
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Vietnam
April 14, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Vietnam.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Nguyen Thuy Hanh, the founder of the “50K fund”, a fund created to support the families of unjustly detained prisoners across Vietnam. A vocal human rights advocate, she manages a popular Facebook account where she frequently discusses human rights issues.

On April 7, 2021, Nguyen Thuy Hanh was arrested by the police and charged under Article 117 of the Criminal Code for allegedly “making, storing, or spreading information, materials or items for the purpose of opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. If convicted, she could face a prison sentence of between five and 20 years. She is currently detained at Temporary Detention Center No. 2 in Thuong Tin District, Hanoi.

Nguyen Thuy Hanh has been repeatedly harassed by the authorities because of her activities as a human rights defender. She has suffered harassment and intimidation on many occasions, after she sought to contest the election to the 2016 National Assembly as an independent candidate in Hanoi. Moreover, her home is perpetually under surveillance and police officers often prevent her from leaving her apartment.

In June 2018, she was was briefly held without charges while engaging in a peaceful protest in Hanoi against the Law on Cybersecurity and the Law on Special Economic Zones. Upon her release, she reported she had been severely beaten by police during the interrogation, which resulted in injuries to her face. Police also interrogated Nguyen Thuy Hanh on her work relating to the 50K Fund on many occasions.

In January 2020, when police raided the village of Dong Tam in Hanoi in an attempt to put an end to a long-standing land dispute, leading to a deadly clash with residents, she raised funds to assist the family of a village leader who was killed by police. In retaliation, her bank account was frozen, with bank employees reportedly telling Nguyen Thuy Hanh that police had forced them to do so.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention and the judicial harassment of Nguyen Thuy Hanh, as it seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against Nguyen Thuy Hanh and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Vietnam, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Nguyen Thuy Hanh and all other human rights defenders in Vietnam;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Nguyen Thuy Hanh as her detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at punishing her for her human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Nguyen Thuy Hanh and all other human rights defenders in Vietnam, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Addresses:

• Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of Vietnam; Email: webmaster@president.gov.vn

• Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of Vietnam; Email: nguoiphatngonchinhphu@chinhphu.vn

• Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam; Email: ttll.mfa@mofa.gov.vn

• Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: info@vnmission-ge.gov.vn

• Embassy of Vietnam in Brussels, Belgium; Email: vnemb.brussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Vietnam in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, April 14, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel. FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· Tel. OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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