Co-Chairs Commend Release of Human Rights Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and Jim McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, commend the release of Nguyen Van Dai in Vietnam. Dai was listed as a prisoner of conscience under the Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project.
Dai, founder of the Committee for Human Rights in 2006 and the Brotherhood for Democracy in 2013, was first arrested in 2008. Dai was sentenced to five years (later reduced to four years) in prison for “conducting propaganda against the state.” In March 2011, after serving his prison sentence, Dai served four more years under house arrest. Even after the conclusion of his house arrest, Dai continued to face ongoing physical attacks, harassment, and surveillance by the police. On one occasion after facilitating a human rights forum in December 2015, Dai was physically assaulted with wooden clubs, his possessions were stolen, and he was left stranded on a beach. A week later he was re-arrested while traveling to participate in a bilateral human rights dialogue with European Union representatives.
The Co-Chairs are grateful for the inspiring way Nguyen Van Dai has advocated for human rights in Vietnam. While they welcome Dai’s release, they urge the Vietnamese government to release the other 97 known cases of prisoners of conscience still detained in Vietnam for the peaceful expression of their beliefs.
The Co-Chairs would also like to recognize Congressman Alan Lowenthal, a member of the Commission, for his unwavering commitment and advocacy on behalf of Nguyen Van Dai through the Defending Freedoms Project. Rep. Lowenthal fights on behalf of several prisoners of conscience in Vietnam through the Project. His efforts on behalf of Dai did not go unnoticed, and his example is one that Members of Congress can follow by choosing to advocate for someone incarcerated in violation of their most basic human rights.
The Co-Chairs hope the release of Nguyen Van Dai is a sign of increased commitment by the government of Vietnam to protect and promote its citizens’ fundamental civil and political rights, and to foster freedom of conscience.
The bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was established by unanimous consent in the United States House of Representatives in 2008 to promote, defend and advocate for international human rights. The Commission undertakes public education activities, provides expert human rights advice and encourages Members of Congress to actively engage in human rights issues.