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    Arbitrary arrest and imminent risk of extradition of Vietnamese human rights defender Y Quynh Bdap

    Arbitrary arrest and imminent risk of extradition of Vietnamese human rights defender Y Quynh Bdap

    THA 004 / 0724 / OBS 027

    Arbitrary detention /

    At risk of extradition

    Thailand

    July 4, 2024

     

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

    Description of the situation:

    The Observatory has been informed of the arbitrary arrest and imminent risk of extradition of Mr Y Quynh Bdap, a prominent Vietnamese human rights actvits and UNHCR-recognised refugee in Bangkok, Thailand. Y Quynh Bdap is the co-founder of Montagnards Stand for Justice (MSFJ), and has been a vocal advocate for religious freedoms and the rights of the Montagnard minority in Vietnam, a predominantly Christian ethnic group residing in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

    On June 11, 2024, Y Quynh Bdap was arrested by Thai authorities following a meeting with Canadian Embassy officials in Bangkok the previous day regarding his resettlement process. Thai authorities have reportedly cited “overstaying” as the reason for his detention, which occurred amid persistent inquiries by Vietnamese authorities into Y Quynh Bdap’s whereabouts in Thailand, forcing him to go into hiding over the past six months. He is currently detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison awaiting an extradition trial requested by the Vietnamese government, which is scheduled to take place on July 15, 2024.

    In January 2024, Y Quynh Bdap was convicted in absentia by Vietnamese authorities to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges. The charges were related to his alleged involvement in attacks on government offices in the Dak Lak Province, Vietnam, in June 2023, which resulted in nine deaths. In a video statement recorded on June 7, 2024, Y Quynh Bdap reiterated his innocence and categorically denied any involvement in the attacks. At the time, he had left Vietnam to seek asylum.

    If forcibly repatriated, Y Quynh Bdap faces arbitrary imprisonment and the risk of torture. This threat is particularly serious given the documented history of violations against Montagnard communities by Vietnamese authorities. Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Vietnam’s repressive actions against ethnic minorities and dissidents.

    The Observatory also expresses its concern about the escalating trend of transnational repression of human rights defenders in Southeast Asia. As part of this global trend, the Observatory underlines precedents of forced repatriation involving Vietnamese HRDs. On April 13, 2023, Vietnamese journalist Duong Van Thai disappeared after being abducted in Bangkok. By April 16, 2023, Vietnamese state media reported that Duong Van Thai had been arrested while allegedly illegally re-entering Vietnam from Laos on April 14. Similarly, in 2019, Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat was abducted in Thailand, only to resurface in Vietnam days later. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison. At the time of his disappearance, Nhat was seeking refugee status in Thailand.

    If Thailand extradites Y Quynh Bdap, it would blatantly violate its obligations under domestic law and international treaties, notably the principle of non-refoulement enshrined in Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and in Thailand’s Act on Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances. This new law, which took effect on February 22, 2023, explicitly prohibits returning individuals to countries where they may face torture, ill-treatment, and enforced disappearance.

    Additionally, Thailand ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which came into effect on June 13, 2024, mandating measures to prevent any actions that could lead to torture and enforced disappearance, including extraditing individuals to states where they are likely to face such risks. Forcibly returning Y Quynh Bdap to Vietnam would constitute a clear violation of these obligations.

    The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Y Quynh Bdap, which appears to be solely aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.

    The Observatory further calls on the authorities in Thailand to put an end to any extradition proceedings against Y Quynh Bdap and to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative levels, against him and all other human rights defenders in the country.

    Actions requested:

    Please write to the authorities of Thailand, asking them to:

     Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Y Quynh Bdap and all other human rights defenders in Thailand;

     Immediately and unconditionally release Y Quynh Bdap;

     Refrain from forcibly repatriating Y Quynh Bdap and grant him the necessary protections as a UN-recognised refugee;

     Cease all acts of transnational repression against foreign activists and conduct thorough and impartial investigations into the involvement of Thai officials in any allegations of harassment, intimidation, threats, surveillance, and forced repatriations from Thailand by foreign governments;

     Uphold Thailand’s International obligations to protect refugees and asylum-seekers from persecution and harm.

    Addresses:

    • Mr. Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: [email protected]

    • Mr. Maris Sangiampongsa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: [email protected]

    • Mr. Tawee Sodsong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: [email protected]

    • General Songwit Noonpackdee, Commander in Chief of the Army, Email: [email protected]

    • Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, Commissioner-General of the Police, Email: [email protected]

    • Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarinte, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: [email protected], [email protected]

    • H.E. Ms. Usana Berananda, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: [email protected]

    • H.E. Mrs. Kanchana Patarachoke, Ambassador-designate, Embassy of Thailand to Belgium and Luxembourg, and Head of Mission of Thailand to the European Union, Belgium, Email: [email protected]

    Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Thailand in your respective countries.

    ***

    Geneva-Paris, July 4, 2024

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

    • E-mail: [email protected]

    • Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

    • Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39

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