Human Rights Commissioner Strässer on the release of Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan
The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement on 21 September on the release of the Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan:
I am very pleased that Vietnamese blogger Ta Phong Tan has been released. We worked very hard in favour of this outcome. At the same time, I regret that she has apparently only been released from prison on the condition that she leaves the country immediately.
It is incongruous that Viet Nam has committed to upholding human rights in its new constitution and yet at the same time is not respecting freedom of opinion as enshrined in the ICCPR, ratified by Viet Nam. All those in prison for having exerted their right to freedom of opinion or demonstration should be released without delay.
On 19 September 2015, blogger Ta Phong Tan obtained early release from prison after three years of incarceration. From Hanoi she travelled directly to the United States. In 2012, Ta Phong Tan was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and five years of house arrest for “propaganda against the state”. She had written online about topics such as widespread corruption.
Together with its partners from the EU and other countries, the German Government had been working to achieve her release for a long time. In an expert report, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had classed the incarceration of Ta Phong Tan as “arbitrary”.
In the past year, two human rights defenders have already been released from prison under similar circumstances (Mr Cu Huy Ha VU and Mr Dieu Cay). In both cases the sentence was simply suspended. They had to promise to travel to the US immediately. That means that, de facto, returning to Viet Nam is not an option as they would have to serve the remainder of their sentence.