Thailand Bars Vietnamese Human Rights Activist Again!

Originally published at Siam Voices on October 28, 2010 In September, a press event on human rights in Vietnam was to take place at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand (FCCT), when the FCCT got a letter by the Thai ministry of affairs being pressured to cancel the event, stating to not allow "organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries". Shortly thereafter the event was actually canceled, after the speakers and activists have been denied entry to Thailand. This dubious act by the Thai government was certainly a shot in the own foot, since there was some public criticism.

Why am I telling you this, you might ask? Well, may be they have learned some lessons and actually try to.... Ah, what the hell - this is Thailand we're talking about! And guess what? They've done it again!

The president of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, Vo Van Ai, was refused a visa by the Thai Embassy in Paris, the second time that he has been prevented from travelling to Bangkok in recent weeks. (...)

An empty chair marked the place where Vo Van Ai was to have delivered a lecture titled "Universality and Particularity in Human Rights: A Vietnamese Buddhist Viewpoint" at the "First International Conference on Human Rights in Asia." The event drew scholars and activists from across southeast Asia and beyond and was held by the Southeast Asia Human Rights Network (SEAHRN) and Bangkok's Mahidon University.

Speaking today, Dr. Srirapha Petcharamasree read letter from Vo Van Ai to SEAHRN, in which he said that "the attitude of the Thai government is particularly shocking given that Thailand holds the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council." Dr. Srirapha is Thailand's representative at the AICHR, but stressed that she was speaking in a personal capacity. She called on the Thai Government "to be faithful to the commitment made to the UN when it made its candidacy to the presidency."

"Thailand Again Bars Vietnamese Activist", The Irrawaddy, October 15, 2010

While this case has generated less outcry than the first ban, it nevertheless bluntly reveals Thailand's current stance and hamfisted handling on these thorny issues.