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Vietnam blocks journalist from attending UN rights review

Vietnam blocks journalist from attending UN review of its human rights record

GENEVA, February 2, 2014 - Pham Chi Dung, a respected independent journalist and civil society advocate, was blocked by Vietnamese authorities from leaving the country yesterday evening to attend events in Geneva during the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Vietnam. He was to be a featured speaker at a UPR side event on February 4th titled “With Membership Comes Responsibility: Ensuring Human Rights in Vietnam.”

Pham Chi Dung, possessing a valid Vietnam passport and Swiss visa, was prevented by police from boarding his flight at Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon on February 1st. According to Mr. Dung, authorities seized his passport and stated that his participation at the United Nations would be “harmful to the human rights image of Vietnam.”

“We are alarmed at the Hanoi government’s attempt to silence Pham Chi Dung,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, the Geneva-based human rights organization which invited Mr. Dung.

“Vietnam is violating one of the stated principles of the UN review process, that of ensuring the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including non-governmental activists. We therefore urge the Human Rights Council and UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay to speak out against this gross breach, and to defend Vietnam’s courageous champions of human rights.”

Organizers of the UPR side event will arrange for Pham Chi Dung’s message to be presented at the United Nations even if he cannot physically attend.

“Only authoritarian governments deny citizens their freedom of travel and right to free expression. We expect the international community to be even more eager to hear Pham Chi Dung’s views on the challenges facing civil society in Vietnam,” said Duy Hoang, spokesperson for Viet Tan, a Vietnamese pro-democracy organization and co-host of the UPR side event.

Pham Chi Dung is an independent journalist and researcher whose work has appeared in prominent publications, including the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and Radio France Internationale. A prolific writer and political essayist, Dung began a literary career in 1986 and continued writing for numerous online publications. A Communist Party member for 20 years, he made headlines when he publicly quit the party in December 2013, calling for a multiparty system. Pham Chi Dung holds a doctorate in economics.

This side event is supported by: ARTICLE 19, COSUNAM, Human Rights for Vietnam PAC, Lawyers for Lawyers, Media Legal Defence Initiative, PEN International, UN Watch, and Viet Tan.

ENDS

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