Vietnamese Dissident Released After 6 Years in Prison, Will Address U.N. at Geneva Human Rights Summit

Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

GENEVA, Jan. 20, 2017 – A coalition of 25 non-governmental human rights groups announced today that Dang Xuan Dieu, a leading Vietnamese dissident freed from prison last week, will speak for the first time about his release at the 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights & Democracy, on February 21, 2017.

During the event, 25 NGOs will host high-profile activists testifying on urgent human rights situations in Iran, Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, Mauritania and others.

Dieu was persecuted by Vietnam’s one-party Communist regime for advocating democracy and human rights for the country’s Catholic minority.

Prison guards humiliated and tortured Dieu in part because he refused to wear his prison uniform which bore the word “criminal.” Dieu’s arbitrary detention attracted international attention after he staged hunger strikes for prisoners’ rights, and helped secure his release.

Dieu will be joined by dissidents, activists, victims and relatives of political prisoners from Russia, Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, Mauritania and Tibet, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries. A high-profile North Korean defector, and a young Yazidi woman who wrote a book on her being raped by ISIS terrorists, will also speak.

Mohamed Nasheed, the veteran human rights activist who was elected president of the Maldives only to be arrested and jailed as a political prisoner, will be one of the keynote speakers. Amal Clooney, his lawyer, has received death threats for defending Nasheed. See selected presenters below.

The acclaimed annual conference is timed to take place in Geneva days before foreign ministers gather to open the 2017 U.N. Human Rights Council session.

“It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, which for the ninth year in a row will be organizing the annual event together with a cross-regional coalition of 20 other human rights groups.

The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

“The speakers’ compelling and vivid testimonies will aim to stir the conscience of the U.N. to address critical human rights situations around the world,” said Neuer.

Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, prison camps, Internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at

Admission to this year’s February 21, 2017 summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program and schedule information, visit The conference will also be available via live webcast.