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.”