International Federation for Human Rights: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Viet Nam.
The Observatory has been informed by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Le Quoc Quan, a human rights lawyer and blogger.
According to the information received, on December 27, 2012, Mr. Le Quoc Quan was arrested by the police in Hanoi while dropping off his daughter at school. The police also searched his office and home and confiscated some documents. They apparently read out a warrant, but did not give it to Mr. Le Quoc Quan’s family. The police told his family that he would be charged under Article 161 of the Criminal Code, which relates to tax evasion. If condemned, he risks three years in prison and a heavy fine.
Mr. Le Quoc Quan, who began a hunger strike on December 28, is currently detained incommunicado in Hoa Lo Prison No. 1. Neither his lawyer nor his family have been able to visit him to date.
Radio Free Asia: Quan, a 41-year-old Catholic in the majority Buddhist nation, was jailed for three months in 2007 for participating in “activities to overthrow the people’s government,” but he was released following protests from the United States.
In August last year, Quan was beaten by police in an attack which prompted U.S.-based Human Rights Watch to call for a full investigation. Quan required hospital treatment and, following that incident, had begun carrying a golf club with him for self-defense, reports have said.
He had also complained of harassment by authorities in media interviews.
In early December, Quan told Agence France-Presse that his family was under “much pressure… It is terrible”, with both his brother and a female cousin being held in detention.
In an interview with The Associated Press in September, Quan said he was under constant surveillance and that he and his family and staff received frequent warnings and pressure from authorities. But he pledged to keep speaking out against the government and in favor of multiparty democracy and freedom of speech and religion
In addition to writing his blogs, Quan was heavily involved in a string of anti-China demonstrations last year over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.