Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, Minar Pimple, has been refused an entry visa to speak at this week’s World Economic Forum on ASEAN event in Hanoi, further evidence of the Vietnamese government’s ongoing crackdown against freedom of expression.
Minar Pimple, who is part of Amnesty International’s senior leadership team, was due to speak on diversity and pluralism, yet has been refused permission to attend.
World Economic Forum (WEF) officials who communicated with the Viet Nam government were told Pimple’s visa had been earmarked for refusal.
Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said, “We condemn this decision to stifle debate from a regular contributor to the WEF who has spoken at the highest levels on human rights issues around the world. This comes at a time when freedom of expression is under deep threat in Viet Nam. The government’s actions undermine an event that depends on a plurality of views, and they are giving ASEAN a bad name.”
Over the past year, the crackdown on freedom of expression in civil society in Viet Nam has intensified, with many activists being arrested, tried unfairly and sentenced to years in prison, leading scores of others to flee the country.
Human rights defenders, peaceful political activists, and religious communities have also been subjected to a range of repressive measures including arbitrary detention, prosecution on national security-related and other vaguely worded charges in unfair trials, and heavy sentences. Prominent activists face restrictions on movement and are subject to surveillance, harassment and violent assaults.
Amnesty International has also warned that a new Cyber Security Law passed in June this year threatens freedom of expression on online platforms.
“Viet Nam’s government should reverse increasing restrictions on expression and immediately cease persecuting and suppressing those engaging in reasoned debate,” Kumi Naidoo said.
“Countries with significant engagement with Viet Nam, including the United States, members of the European Union, ASEAN members, as well as businesses and others attending the WEF, should not ignore the urgent human rights issues plaguing the country, and insist that debates at the Forum are open and address global and regional human rights concerns.”