Statement of Defend the Defenders Regarding Arrest of Human Rights Defender Nguyen Thuy Hanh

HRD Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh

Defend the Defenders, April 7, 2021

Press release


On April 7, the Vietnamese communist authorities detained human rights defender Nguyen Thuy Hanh at her apartment in Hanoi. According to some sources, the forces carrying out the arrest are from the Ministry of Public Security. Authorities have not announced the charge(s) against Mrs. Hanh.

Mrs. Hanh is one of the most active advocates of democracy and human rights in Vietnam for many years. She is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, a group that has been severely persecuted since 2015 with many key members being arrested and sentenced to long prison terms.

She has established and managed the 50K Foundation to support prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, supporting hundreds of people being arrested or suffered other forms of prosecution of the communist authorities just for exercising the right to freedom of expression and paying their concerns about the country’s issues.

In 2020, Vietnamese in the country and abroad sent their material support to Mrs. Hanh’s Vietcombank account for the family of killed-by-police elderly communal leader Le Dinh Kinh and detained land petitioners in Dong Tam commune, My Duc district, Hanoi after the raid of about 3,000 riot policemen to Hoanh village on January 9, 2020. However, Vietnam’s authorities demanded Vietcombank freeze her account and still hold VND523 million ($22,700), the financial supports for Dong Tam land petitioners.

Over the years, the Vietnamese communist authorities have taken many measures to suppress her in order to force her to stop the operation of the 50K Fund, including summoning to the police station for interrogation, placing her to de facto under house arrest in many occasions, and defaming her in the state-controlled media. The culmination of persecution was her arrest on Wednesday morning.

Defend the Defenders believes that Mr.s Hanh only works for human rights and does not violate the laws of Vietnam. Her arrest is illegal and arbitrary, like hundreds of activists’ arrests in recent years.

Defend the Defenders requests the Vietnamese communist government to immediately and unconditionally release Mrs. Hanh, notify her family of her condition, and give her access to a lawyer.

In order for the country to develop sustainably, the Vietnamese communist government needs to respect the human rights of all people, fulfill international commitments on human rights, and enable human rights defenders to work without fear of revenge.

We call on the Vietnamese people and the international community to give a strong voice to demand the Vietnamese communist government end its persecution of social activists and human rights defenders.


On behalf of Defend the Defenders

Director Vu Quoc Ngu