Obama Must Address Detention of Rights Defender with Vietnam's President | Freedom House

Obama Must Address Detention of Rights Defender with Vietnam's President

Photo Credit: Frontline Defenders

In the following letter, we call on President Barack Obama to raise the issue with Vietnam's government about the arrest and arbitrary detention of human rights defender and lawyer, Mr. Le Quoc Quan.

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The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Copy to:

The Honourable John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
23 July 2013

Dear Mr President,

The signatory organisations respectfully request that you raise with the Vietnamese Government the arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr Le Quoc Quan, prominent lawyer, blogger and human rights defender. We understand that President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam will meet with you on 25 July 2013 and we sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to discuss Mr Quan’s case with him.

Mr Quan is a qualified lawyer and active blogger who is currently detained for exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and for his activities as a human rights defender. Prior to his arrest, Mr Quan exposed human rights abuses commonly ignored by Vietnamese state media on his popular blog.  He defended human rights cases in the Vietnamese courts until he was disbarred in 2007, when he was arrested and detained for 100 days upon his return from the United States where he had been a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C.  In April 2011, Mr Quan was arrested again and ultimately released without charges. In August 2012, he was severely injured in a violent attack committed by what he believes were State agents.

On 27 December 2012, Mr Quan was arrested and charged with alleged ‘tax evasion.’ He was detained incommunicado for the first two months and went on hunger strike for fifteen days. At this moment, Mr Quan is still imprisoned and is not allowed visits from his family. His trial was scheduled to take place on 9 July 2013, but was postponed at the last moment until further notice.

Mr Quan’s arrest and detention are in violation of Vietnam’s obligations under international law, in particular Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which impose duties on the government to protect Mr Quan’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. His treatment also contravenes state duties set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, to ensure and protect the rights of human rights defenders. More detailed information about Mr Quan and Vietnam’s unlawful interference with his human rights is set forth in the attached Letter of Allegation recently sent to the Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations.

Given the great importance of international attention to the effort to secure Mr Quan’s freedom, and to enable him to return to his indispensable human rights work, we hope you will seize the opportunity of President Sang’s upcoming visit to request the immediate release of Mr Quan.

Thank you for your kind consideration of our request. Please do not hesitate to have your staff contact us should you have any questions or need any additional information about this important case.

Most respectfully,

Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI)

Nani Jansen
Senior Legal Counsel
[email protected]


Jochai Ben-Avie
Policy Director
[email protected]

Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT)

François Picart
[email protected]

Article 19

Agnes Callamard
Executive Director
[email protected]

Réseau Avocats Sans Frontières / ASF Network

Anne Lutun
ASF Network Coordinator
[email protected]

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Eva Galperin
Global Policy Analyst
[email protected]

English PEN

Robert Sharp
Head of Campaigns and Communications
[email protected]

Freedom House

Robert Herman
Vice President for Regional Programs
[email protected]

Front Line Defenders

Mary Lawlor
Executive Director
[email protected]

Human Rights Watch

John Sifton
Asia Advocacy Director
[email protected]

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Karim Lahidji
[email protected]

Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L)

Adrie van de Streek
Executive Director
[email protected]

Media Defence - Southeast Asia

HR Dipendra
[email protected]

National Endowment for Democracy

Sally Blair
Senior Director, Fellowship Programs
[email protected]

PEN American Center

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
[email protected]

Reporters Without Borders

Christophe Deloire
[email protected]

Southeast Asian Press Alliance

Gayathry Venkiteswaran
Executive Director
[email protected]

Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

Vo Van Ai
[email protected]

World Movement for Democracy

Art Kaufman
Senior Director
[email protected]