Dear Sirs / Madams

My name is Do Thi Minh Hanh, who was freed on June 26, 2014 by the Vietnamese government after more than 4 years in prison for peacefully supporting Vietnamese workers’ labor rights.

First, I express my sincere gratitude to you for your pressure on the Vietnamese authorities for my early release, and for your strong intervention which allowed me in October 2014 to visit my mother.

Today, I wrote this letter to say that my freedom has once again been restricted. I am now forbidden from leaving this country to visit my mother Tran Thi Ngoc Minh who has visited several countries seeking justice. My mother is currently living in Austria and is suffering from a heart ailment. She cannot go back to Vietnam as a refugee, and she very much wants me to visit her.

At 7.30 AM of June 15, 2017, I went to Vietnam’s Ha Tien gateway to Cambodia with the intention of flying from Cambodia to Austria to visit my mother. I had been issued a visa by the Austrian Embassy on June 11,2017 and I planned to fly to Austria on June 20, 2017.

In terms of logic:

In the Final Constitution of the Republic of Vietnam, Article 23 states, “The citizen shall enjoy freedom of movement and of residence within the country; and can freely travel abroad and return home from abroad. The exercise of these rights shall be provided by the law.”

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13 states, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country

In terms of human decency:

My mother is unable to go back to her homeland because of her support from my labor-rights struggles. My father and I are separated from her, and we dearly miss each other. In her current state of health she very much needs my presence before she decides to have a heart operation as recommended by her doctor. Allowing me to visit my mother in this situation is a basic human decency respected by international norms.

In my country, many other people have also stood up for the truth and what is right, and like me they have also been ill-treated like this. This includes physical abuse, harassment, economic isolation, home detention, threats, imprisonment, and forbidding of international travel. All of this is on the pretense of national security – a vague and ill-defined excuse to strip us of our civil rights.

This is the secong time I am forbidden from leaving Vietnam. And my mother is again badly shaken. I dearly hope you would convince the Vietnamese authorities to respect citizens’ freedom of movement and international norms of decency.

Viet Nam, June 17, 2017

Yours Sincerely

Do Thi Minh Hanh