Jun 09 2018

Ingo Breuer

Vietnam Releases, Expels Christian Human Rights Lawyer to Germany

Filed under PersecutionShare!  

Nguyen Van Dai and Colleague Le Thu Ha Regain Freedom

06/08/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that late on June 7, Christian human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and a fellow member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, Le Thu Ha, were released from prison in Vietnam. Dai’s wife, Vu Minh Khanh joined the two as they boarded a flight to Frankfurt, Germany.

The German foreign ministry confirmed their release on Friday. Reuters reported the statement made by the ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Adebahr: “The German government welcomes the release of Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha. We see it as remarkable humanitarian step from the Vietnamese side and a good signal to the international community.”

Dai began his human rights work in 2000 when he defended a Christian who was detained after she opposed the authorities’ attempts to dissolve her worship service. He offered pro bono legal advice to religious communities, human rights defenders, and political groups, until police arrested him in 2007 and sentenced him to four years in prison. Following his release in 2011, he was placed under house arrest until March 2015. He was arrested again in Hanoi on December 16, 2015, on the charge of “conducting propaganda against the government” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

On April 5, 2018, Dai and colleague Le Thu Ha, along with four other activists, were given lengthy jail sentences for their promotion of democracy. In a follow-up interview with ICC, Dai’s wife Khanh criticized the flawed trial, stating that the “judicial panel [has] been too imposing and deliberate [in criminalizing
him]. This is because the prosecutor cannot provide any evidence. Yet Dai was still sentenced to 15 years in prison and five years of house arrest.”

According to Radio Free Asia, on June 6, 90 Vietnam-related NGOs cited Dai’s case in a letter urging the European Union to reject a proposed free trade pact with Vietnam until it releases its political prisoners and upholds freedom of speech and other rights.

During the G20 Summit last July, 40 human rights and civil society organizations in Europe, Asia, and the United States also called on the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally release three prominent human rights defenders, including Nguyen Van Dai.

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, the president and CEO of Boat People SOS (BPSOS), told ICC, “No doubt that this was the result of the combined pressure from multiple directions. VETO!, our long-term partner in Germany, played a critical role. Coordinated advocacy is the success factor at both the civil society and government levels. The US State Department coordinated closely with the German government to make this happen. Let us continue the coordinated advocacy drive to get others released.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We rejoice at the news that Mr. Nguyen Van Dai has been freed and can finally live free from harassment. Yet we ought not forget the many others who are still imprisoned or face baseless accusations from the state. We urge the Vietnamese government to release other prisoners of conscience, including Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton and dozens of Montagnard Christians.”

For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press

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