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DPA : Bangkok launch for Vietnam human rights report cancelled – Summary

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BANGKOK – Thailand, 12 September 2010 (dpa) – Objecting to the use of Bangkok as the site for the launch of a report denouncing Vietnam’s human rights record, has denied entry to two of the report’s main authors, sources said Sunday.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights had planned a press conference Monday at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) to publish the report titled: From “Vision” to Facts: Human Rights in Vietnam under its Chairmanship of ASEAN.

Vietnam, one of the world’s few remaining communist states, currently holds the chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Thailand is a founding member.

Thailand’s Foreign Ministry objected to the event, which has now been cancelled.

“While the Royal Thai government attaches great importance to the principles of freedom of expression and diversity of views, it also has a longstanding position of not allowing organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries,” ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said in a letter to the press club.

“I therefore hope that the FCCT will respect this position and not allow its premises to be used for such activities,” he said.

The press conference was to be held by Vietnam Committee on Human Rights chairman Vo Van Ai and Vice-President Penelope Faulkner.

“We have decided not to hold the press conference, as both of our speakers have been denied entry into Thailand,” said Shwe Ye, a spokesman for the International Federation for Human Rights.

Ai, a critic of the Vietnamese government who runs the Buddhist Information Center in Paris, was initially granted a visa. But it was later revoked by the Thai embassy in France, sources said.

“We feel it is unfortunate that the Thai government has chosen to apply pressure on us in this way. We would appreciate if the government reconsiders the wisdom of such pressure,” the FCCT said in a statement.

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