Vietnam Security Forces Block Four Activists from Visiting Myanmar

Writer Nguyen Tuong Thuy (first from right) and activist Truong Van Dung (second from left)
Writer Nguyen Tuong Thuy (first from right) and activist Truong Van Dung (second from left)

[themify_box style=”blue, announcement, rounded” ]Security forces said the reason for blocking them is national security according to the government Decree 136 without explaining in details.[/themify_box]

By Vu Quoc Ngu, Dec 7, 2015

Vietnam’s security forces on Sunday [December 6] barred four activists from leaving to country to Myanmar where they were invited by the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Writer Pham Chi Thanh, who runs Ba Dam Xoe blog, and poet Nguyen Tuong Thuy, vice president of the unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, were stopped by security agents in the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport when the two bloggers were on their way to take an international flight to Myanmar.

Meanwhile, activists Truong Van Dung and Le Sy Binh were blocked by border guards in the Moc Bai Border Gate in the southwestern province of Tay Ninh which borders with Cambodia’s province of Svay Rieng when they tried to go to Phnom Penh where they will take international flight to Myanmar.

In all four cases, security forces said the reason for blocking them is national security according to the government Decree 136 without explaining in details.

The activists said they were invited by the NLD in a bid to share experiences in democratic and human rights promotion.

Mr. Thanh is a dissident who has produced a number of books criticizing the communist government. He was summoned many times by Hanoi police for questioning about his writings.

Mr. Thuy has posted a number of articles criticizing the government’s poor economic management, systemic corruption and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea. Last year, when he returned from the U.S., he was detained for questioning by security forces in the Noi Bai International Airport.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dung is one of the most activists in anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi, and a human rights advocate. He has been assaulted many times by plainclothes agents.

Along with jailing and harassing local political dissidents and human rights defenders, Vietnam has barred them from meeting with foreign diplomats and traveling abroad to attend international conferences and workshops.

According to a report of the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders released on September 14, authorities in Vietnam have blocked at least 33 human rights defenders and activists from freely travelling abroad or internally in March-September, despite legal protection of the right to freedom of movement. Civil Rights Defenders considers these restrictions arbitrary and in violation of Vietnam’s obligations under its own Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Vietnam is expected to uphold the highest standards in human rights protection and promotion, but it is doing the opposite by denying human rights defenders and activists the opportunity to travel, associate with others, and express themselves freely,” said Brittis Edman, Southeast Asia Program Director at Civil Rights Defenders.