Vietnamese activist stripped of citizenship vows to fight on

DPA

June 13, 2017

Hanoi (dpa) - A Vietnamese political activist stripped of his citizenship will fight the "illegal" decision, the activist told dpa Tuesday.

Pham Minh Hoang, a dual French and Vietnamese national, received a letter on June 10 signed by President Tran Dai Quang ordering his Vietnamese nationality revoked on the grounds that he had "propagated" against the government.

The former university lecturer from Ho Chi Minh City had previously been sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 over a series of anti-government blog posts, although he was released after 17 months and ordered to serve three years of house arrest.

While Hoang, said he has not yet received a deportation order, the nationality revocation, which was unprecedented in Vietnam, apparently rendered his presence in Vietnam illegal.

"I immediately consulted my lawyers, and after examining my papers they came to the conclusion that the decision to abolish my nationality was completely illegal," said Hoang, adding that he had written a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron for help.

Earlier this month, Hoang had attempted to abandon his French citizenship in hopes of preventing a deportation.

Hoang said he is a member of the Viet Tan, a US-based opposition party labelled a "terrorist" organisation by the Vietnamese government.

"I have been sentenced to prison because I am a Viet Tan, and I will continue to fight for democracy and I will cooperate with all democratic and non-violent movements," he said, adding that a deportation would break up his family.

"My wife, who is Vietnamese, must stay in Vietnam to look after my brother who is disabled ... and he also has to look after his mother who is very old," he said.

He said that he was not confident that the courts would work in his favour. "Even if the decision is illegal, I live in an unlawful country. They can take me and throw in the plane," he said.

While laws on the books previously outlawed dual citizenship, a law approved in 2014 created broad exemptions for returning immigrants. Hoang moved to France in 1973 and returned 27 years later.

Vietnam‘s single party communist state effectively outlaws dissent with articles in the penal code broadly criminalizing "propagating against the state" and "abusing democratic freedoms."

Amnesty International listed 91 political prisoners in Vietnam in its 2016 report, the highest in South-East Asia. Vietnam maintains that all prisoners in the country are justly convicted.

Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at the US-based Human Rights Watch, said the order against Hoang was a "new low" for Vietnam‘s human rights record against political dissidents.

"The international community, especially aid donors to Vietnam, must publicly demand this action be immediately reversed by Hanoi, and ensure that no other political activists face the same punishment of losing citizenship in the future," he said.

The French Embassy did not immediately reply for comment.

Source: Europe Online


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