Thai Police Helped Vietnam Abduct RFA Blogger: Rights Group
RFA – 06/21/2019
Thai police helped Vietnamese police abduct a dissident blogger seeking asylum
in Thailand and return him to custody in Hanoi, revealing a pattern of
cooperation between security services in the neighboring Southeast Asian
countries, rights group Amnesty International said on Friday.
Truong Duy Nhat, a weekly contributor to RFA’s
Vietnamese Service, disappeared in Bangkok in late January amid fears he was
abducted by Vietnamese agents, and was revealed two months later to be in a jail
Documents and other information obtained by
Amnesty International now point to the involvement of Thai police officers in
the abduction, with security services in both countries seen to be trading
political dissidents wanted by the other side, the rights group said on Friday.
“In extreme cases, dissidents appear to have
been forcibly ‘disappeared’ from the country where they were seeking refuge,
only to reappear in another state’s custody a week or two later,” Amnesty
International said in its June 21 statement.
On Jan. 26, a day after filing for refugee
status with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Bangkok, Nhat was stopped
by four Thai police officers at an ice-cream shop at a shopping mall, Amnesty
International said, citing information received by the rights group.
“The officers brought Nhat to a restaurant, ate
with him for a couple of hours, and then, sometime after 8 pm, drove him a short
distance away, delivering him to a group of Vietnamese police officials.”
“The Vietnamese officials forced Nhat into a van
and drove away with him,” Amnesty International said.
'They worked together'
Thai police had earlier contacted a Vietnamese
refugee living in Thailand, Nguyen Van Chung, asking if he knew Nhat, and Chung
was surprised in a follow-up interview to see his questioners working together
with a man they identified as a Vietnamese official, the Reuters news service
said in a June 21 report.
“Somehow, discreetly, police of Vietnam and
Thailand worked together and knew everything,” Chung said, speaking to Reuters
from a third country to which he later fled to escape police attention.
“Nhat’s abduction appears to be part of a deeply
worrying trend in the region regarding the forced and often unlawful return of
refugees and asylum seekers,” Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s
regional director for East and Southeast Asia, said in a statement Friday.
“A number of countries in the region are trading
off political dissidents and individuals fleeing persecution as part of an
unholy alliance to shore up each other’s regimes,” Bequelin said.
Jailed in Vietnam from 2013 to 2015 for his
writings criticizing Vietnam’s government, Nhat now faces corruption charges for
his alleged involvement in a land-fraud case while serving as bureau chief at a
newspaper in Danang city in the 1990s.
Nhat’s attorney Tran Vu Hai told RFA on June 10
that he has so far been blocked from registering to represent the detained
blogger in the state’s case against him.