August 29, 2012
The Vietnamese authorities have officially extended the detention period of democracy activist and American citizen Nguyen Quoc Quan by another four months. The charges against Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan have been quietly changed from “terrorism” under Article 84 of the Vietnamese Penal Code to “attempting to overthrow the people’s government” under Article 79.
After labeling Dr. Quan as a terrorist in state media, the fact that Hanoi is dropping the Article 84 charge means that authorities could not demonstrate a single reason why the Viet Tan member and democracy activist committed terrorism. By arbitrarily accusing Dr. Quan of terrorism and detaining him illegally since April 17, 2012, Hanoi has added another black mark to its deplorable human rights record.
The Vietnamese communist authorities underscore their intolerance for human rights and democracy by now charging Dr. Quan of subversion simply by being a member of Viet Tan. In recent years, Article 79 has served as the legal pretext for an authoritarian regime to repress and silence peaceful democratic voices.
In a September 2011 decision, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the Government of Vietnamese violated numerous provisions under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when it arbitrarily detained seven land rights activists affiliated with Viet Tan. The complete UN ruling is available at www.viettan.org/unwgad.
“Viet Tan affirms that Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, like all of our members, engages in peaceful advocacy for human rights and social justice,” said Viet Tan Chairman Do Hoang Diem. “Viet Tan will continue to work for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Quan and all other political prisoners held in Vietnam.”
Biography: A US citizen residing in California, Dr. Nguyen Quoc Quan, 58 years old, received his doctorate in mathematics from North Carolina State University. He is a former high school teacher in Vietnam, long time democracy activist and member of Viet Tan. He was previously detained in November 2007 and held for six months for distributing materials promoting nonviolent tactics for civil resistance. After his release from prison in May 2008, Dr. Quan continued his pro-democracy work.
Contact: Duy Hoang +1.202.470.0845