Vietnam Human Rights Defender Barred from Attending Int’l Conference in Sweden, Passport Confiscated

Miss Le Thu Ha at a local seminar  on human rights issues
Miss Le Thu Ha at a local seminar on human rights issues

Vu Quoc Ngu | April 05, 2015 (Defend the Defenders)

[themify_box style=”green, announcement, rounded” ]Hanoi-based human rights activist Le Thu Ha had been stopped by security forces in Noi Bai International Airport on her way to Stockholm where she is invited to attend an international annual conference organized by the Swedish Civil Right Defenders.[/themify_box]

On April 3, Mr. Ha, a member of the unsanctioned pro-democracy Brotherhood of Democracy, was held by Vietnam’s security forces in the airport when she planned to take a domestic flight to the Ho Chi Minh City-based Tan Son Nhat International Airport  where she will fly to Sweden later.

Confiscating her passport and searching her personnel items, security agents told her that there is a violation of national security with her international flight. However, they did not specify any reason and said they worked by order from authorities at higher level.

Ms. Ha, a lawyer by profession, is invited to participate in a week-long seminar of the Civil Right Defenders, former known as previously known as the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.

She is the third Vietnamese prevented by Vietnam’s security forces from attending annual seminars of the Swedish human rights body. In 2013 and 2014, two others Vietnamese human rights defender were also stopped at airports on their way to Stockholm, according to the Sweden Embassy in Hanoi.

Civil Rights Defenders is an independent expert organization founded in Stockholm in 1982 with the aim of defending human rights, in particular people’s civil and political rights, while also supporting and empowering human rights defenders at risk.

Human rights defenders in Vietnam have been harassed, tortured and persecuted by the communist government. According to the Human Rights Watch, along with constant surveillance and harassment against human rights activists and political dissidents, the Vietnamese government has hired thugs to attack them.

Vietnam, a member of the UN Human Rights Council for the 2014-2016 term, has often barred local activists from attending international conferences and seminars on human rights and democracy.