Vietnamese dissident’s arrest raises alarm
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Vietnamese dissident’s arrest raises alarm

Human rights body urges government not to deport Y Quynh Bdap, who has refugee status

Vietnamese activist Y Quynh Bdap was arrested in Bangkok this week. (TV screen capture)
Vietnamese activist Y Quynh Bdap was arrested in Bangkok this week. (TV screen capture)

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has urged the government not to deport Vietnamese activist Y Quynh Bdap, who was arrested in Bangkok this week, out of fear for his safety.

The commission said it learned about his arrest on Thursday, and a civil society organisation requested that it help the activist.

Y Quynh Bdap, 32, is a Christian from the Montangard ethnic group in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. He is a co-founder of Montagnards Stand for Justice, an organisation that pushes for freedom of religion. Christian Montangards belonging to independent house churches have long been persecuted by the Vietnamese government.

Bdap has been living in Thailand since 2018 and was granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Vietnamese government pressed terrorism charges against him following deadly riots in Dak Lak province of Vietnam in June last year. His involvement in the riots is unclear.

According to reports, Bdap was arrested on Tuesday after being interviewed by Canadian authorities at the country’s embassy in Bangkok about his refugee status in Canada.

The NHRC was asked to help prevent the activist from being sent back to Vietnam, as it is highly likely that he will be in danger and face an unfair trial there.

The commission has written to the Immigration Bureau, calling on it to abide by the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act BE 2565 by avoiding refoulement, or the forcible return of someone to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

Thailand is obliged to do as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the country is a party.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) made a similar demand.

“Thailand needs to meet its obligations to protect refugees and demonstrate it deserves a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council,” said Elaine Pearson, the Asia director of HRW.

Thailand is currently bidding for the third time for a seat on the council, with the election for a three-year term for 2025-27 to be held at UN headquarters in New York in October.

If Y Quynh Bdap is deported, Thailand would “not be fit to be elected” to the council, Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, wrote in a post on X on Thursday.

Human Rights Watch last month released a report detailing how Thai authorities have assisted neighbouring governments to take unlawful actions against refugees and dissidents from abroad, making the country increasingly unsafe for those fleeing persecution.

Some targets of transnational repression have become caught up in a “swap mart” in which foreign dissidents in Thailand are effectively traded for critics of the Thai government living abroad, it said.

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