Vietnamese and Thai authorities blocked launch of human rights report
The Vietnamese and Thai governments prevented a human rights report from being launched in Bangkok. Authorities in Thailand cancelled a press conference scheduled at a private venue, while human rights representatives were prevented from traveling to the Thai capital.
The report, which accused Vietnam of violating the rights of groups including ethnic minorities, was complied by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR). The organizations rented space at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT), and planned a Sept. 13, 2010 press conference to launch “From vision to facts: Human rights in Vietnam under its chairmanship of ASEAN”. But the event was cancelled after intervention by Vietnamese and Thai authorities.
The FCCT reported receiving an email from Khun Thani Thongphakdi, the Ministry's acting director general of the department of information, requesting the cancellation of the press conference. Mr Khun wrote that the Thai government “has a long-standing position of not allowing organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries,” according to a Sept. 9 2010 FCCT press release, which urged authorities to allow the press conference to go forward as planned.
Meanwhile, representatives from FIDH scheduled to present the report at the press conference were prevented from traveling to Bangkok, according to the FIDH and VCHR. FIDH President Vo Van Ai reportedly received a call from the Thai embassy in Paris and was told that, despite obtaining a visa, he would not be allowed to enter Thai territory following a request by the Vietnamese government. The FIDH’s vice president, Penelope Faulkner, was prevented from boarding her Singapore Airlines flight from Paris to Bangkok. Airline officials allegedly told her that the flight would not be allowed to land in Bangkok if she were on board.
The report, which can be downloaded from the FIDH website, documented violations of civil, political, economic and social rights in Vietnam. Ethnic minorities such as the Khmer Krom and the Montagnards were among those found to be most at risk. While the report focused on incidents reported during 2010, the year Vietnam chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, such human rights abuses continue today. For example, a recent Human Rights Watch reports details crackdowns against indigenous minorities collectively known as the Montagnards. Among other human rights violations, Montagnard interviewees described being beaten and subjected to electric shock while being interrogated by Vietnamese security forces.