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Jul-25-2013 17:02printcomments

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

The human rights defender has long been targeted by the Vietnamese authorities in retaliation for his work.

Lê Quốc Quân
Lê Quốc Quân

(YORK, UK) - Lê Quốc Quân was arrested in 27 December 2012, on trumped up allegations of tax evasion. He was held incommunicado for the first two months and spent fifteen days on hunger strike.

The human rights defender remains imprisoned awaiting trial at this time, which was originally scheduled for 9 July 2012 but has been postponed indefinitely.

The human rights defender has long been targeted by the Vietnamese authorities in retaliation for his work. As a lawyer, he represented many victims of human rights violations, but he was disbarred in 2007 on suspicion of engaging in “activities to overthrow the regime”.

In addition to his work providing legal representation, Le Quoc Quan runs a blog where he writes about various issues including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom.

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

Dear Mr President,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for

I respectfully request that you raise with the Vietnamese Government the arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr Lê Quốc Quân, prominent lawyer, blogger and human rights defender. I 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 Quân’s case with him.

Mr Quân 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 Quân 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 Quân 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 Quân’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 me should you have any questions or need any additional information about this important case.

Most respectfully,
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for

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______________________________ Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.