Vietnam says it doesn’t know whereabouts of Chinese activist arrested last year

Dong was last seen handcuffed and blindfolded, entering a police car in Hanoi
By RFA Vietnamese
Vietnam says it doesn’t know whereabouts of Chinese activist arrested last year Chinese activist Dong Guangping was last seen handcuffed and blindfolded and being put in a police car in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Toronto Association for Democracy in China

Vietnam told the United Nations that it has no information regarding the whereabouts of Chinese activist Dong Guangping, who was arrested in Hanoi in August 2022.

“After the verification process, the authorities in Viet Nam have had no information regarding Dong Guangping in Viet Nam,” Hanoi said in a diplomatic note dated March 15.

It was in response to a Dec. 15 letter from three U.N. special rapporteurs on human rights that raised questions about the Chinese activist’s situation. 

They said they were informed about the Vietnamese police’s arbitrary arrest of Dong and that Dong was last seen on Aug. 24, 2022, handcuffed and hooded,  entering a police car and escorted by about a dozen Vietnamese police officers.

The official reason for his detention is unknown. At the time, Dong was seeking political asylum status in a third country.

Dong, a former police officer from Henan province, was criminally prosecuted in China three times for his work in support of human rights and democracy, including advocacy for activities commemorating victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Chinese authorities freed Dong in August 2019, and he sought refuge in Vietnam in January 2020. Vietnamese authorities arrested him while he was waiting to be resettled in Canada, where his family resides.  

The diplomatic note also claimed that there was no “arbitrary detention” or “enforced disappearance” in Vietnam.

“In Vietnam, only those who violated the law are detained and prosecuted in accordance with the proceedings regulated in the law; their rights shall be fully ensured in line with national laws and international covenants on human rights of which Viet Nam is a member,” it said.

‘Blatant lies’

Human Rights Watch said Vietnam was lying.

“Despite all of their denials, the fact remains that Vietnam knew exactly where Dong Guangping was during the entirety of his stay in the Hanoi area,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at the New York-based group.

He said that Vietnam even negotiated with several other governments about enabling Dong to leave the country so he could receive protection somewhere else.

“All these denials by Vietnam are blatant lies to cover up the reality that the authorities arrested and disappeared him, presumably by sending him back to China where he will face severe persecution and punishment,” said Robertson. 

“Once again, despite the popular sentiment of the Vietnamese people against the Chinese government, the Vietnam Communist Party can’t seem to resist doing secret deals with its neighbor to the north, often abusing human rights in doing so,” he said.

Sheng Xue, vice chairperson of the Federation for a Democratic China and editor-in-chief of China Spring Magazine, told RFA that the Vietnamese government was being irresponsible and untransparent regarding Dong, whom she considers to be a close friend.

According to Sheng, Dong was to be resettled to Canada with his wife and daughter from Thailand in November 2015. However, he was taken back to China from a Thai prison and was sentenced to four years, being released in August 2019. He came to Vietnam in January 2020, then went missing in August of last year.

“I am so disappointed by this response from the Vietnamese government,” Sheng said. “This response completely ignores the facts.”

Appeals to Canada

Sheng said that upon learning of Dong’s disappearance on Aug. 27, 2022, she immediately asked three different friends to go to his home to ask his landlord and neighbors about his whereabouts.

According to the information she obtained from different friends, Dong was taken away from his residence by more than a dozen Vietnamese police officers.

“[He] was handcuffed, and his head was covered by a black hood,” said Sheng. “Since then, I have never heard any further information about [him].”

Sheng also said that she has provided the information to the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and called on Canada to protect Dong and to protest against Vietnam’s handling of the case.

The Toronto Association for Democracy in China said that if Dong Guangping is returned to China, it is likely that will face arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, and an unfair trial.

According to Spain-based Safeguard Defenders, over the past few years, the Vietnamese government has arrested and deported three Chinese activists, including Dong Guangping, who had fled to the Southeast Asian country to avoid China’s persecution.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.


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