Human rights activist Bach Hong Quyen left Thailand for Canada on Thursday, ending fears he could be extradited to Vietnam for his role in helping a dissident Vietnamese blogger apply for asylum in Bangkok before he was abducted by Vietnamese agents.
Truong Duy Nhat, an RFA contributor, disappeared in Bangkok in late January, and two months later was revealed to be in a Hanoi jail, in what legal experts said was a violation by Vietnam's police of the country's criminal procedure laws.
Quyen and his six-month-old son Joseph boarded an airplane leaving Bangkok at 10:40 p.m. local time, with arrival in Canada expected early on Friday, Do Ky Anh—a representative of the Voice Canada advocacy group—told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on May 2.
“Quyen left Thailand at night on May 2 and will arrive in Mississauga city of Canada at around 9:30 in the morning of May 3,” Anh said. He added that Quyen had spent about a week in an immigration detention center in accordance with Thai regulations that immigrants be held in detention before leaving for a third country.
Quyen had been approved for travel to Canada in a refugee program funded by the Canadian government, Voice Canada said in a press release, adding that Quyen’s wife Bui Huong Giang and the couple’s two daughters had already traveled to Canada under the same program on April 16.
Anh said he had no information regarding Quyen’s possible extradition to Vietnam for having helped Nhat before the blogger’s abduction, but said “We did have concerns about that.”
“We heard that when Quyen was in the IDC [immigration detention center], a delegation from Vietnam visited the facility. I don’t know why they were there, but we monitored Quyen’s situation in the IDC very closely.”
Thai immigration authorities have denied any knowledge of efforts to deport Quyen, who fled to Thailand in May 2017 after Vietnamese police issued a warrant for his arrest for organizing a march on the anniversary of a 2016 waste spill that that polluted the coast of central Vietnam.
The environmental disaster sparked major protests.
In a May 2 press release, Voice—a California-based organization supporting human rights and civil society in Vietnam—and its branch Voice Canada thanked the United Nations refugee agency, the Thai government, Human Rights Watch, and other groups for their help to Quyen and his family.
“After two years of efforts, and with the utmost help from individuals and organizations, we have succeeded in helping Quyen and his family reunite and settle down in Canada,” the advocacy group said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.