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


July 5, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

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.



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