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[Statement] Thailand: Release Human Right Defender Y Quynh Bdap, refuse extradition to Vietnam

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The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS), Asia Democracy Network, and Front Line Defenders are deeply concerned over the Thai authorities’ arrest of Y Quynh Bdap, a Vietnamese-ethnic minority human rights defender and religious freedom activist. We demand for his immediate release and protection from extradition.

Bdap is at risk of deportation to Vietnam, where he could be subjected to severe persecution. On 11 June 2024, Bdap was arrested by Thai immigration police for “overstaying” his visa after residing in the county since 2018. He is currently detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison pending an extradition trial requested by the Vietnamese Government.

Bdap co-founded Montagnards Stand for Justice (MSFJ), an organisation that documents human rights violations and advocates for the rights of Montagnard people, an indigenous ethnic minority group in Vietnam’s central highlands. Bdap has been granted refugee status by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and is awaiting resettlement in a third country.

Bdap was accused of engaging in “terrorism,” with the Vietnamese Government  labeling MSFJ as a “terrorist organization.” In January 2024, the People’s Court of Dak Lak province sentenced Bdap in absentia to a 10-year imprisonment and sentenced nearly 100 people allegedly involved in an attack on two police stations in Cu Kuin district in June 2023, with the harshest penalty being life imprisonment. Bdap asserted in  a video statement that he had no involvement in the attack and he was in Thailand at the time of attack.

On 12 June 2024, Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, stressed that extraditing Bdap breaches Thailand’s domestic and international obligations, making the country unfit for election to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2024.

Transnational repression

Bdap’s arrest highlights a disturbing trend of transnational repression, wherein Vietnamese activists and human rights defenders seeking refuge in Thailand endure systematic surveillance, physical violence, and judicial harassment from Thai authorities.

In 2023, Vietnamese blogger and UNHCR-recognised refugee Duong Van Thai was abducted by Vietnameses authorities in Bangkok, forcibly deported to Vietnam, and subsequently charged for creating “propaganda against the state.” Duong Van Thai fled to Thailand to seek protection from political persecution for his criticism of the Vietnamese Government and leaders of the Communist Party on social media.


A similar incident occurred in 2019, when Radio Free Asia blogger Truong Duy Nhat was abducted in Bangkok and deported back to Vietnam. Nhat was sentenced to ten years in prison over politically-motivated charges.


Call to action

We urge the Government of Thailand to ensure Bdap’s immediate and unconditional release. Bdap should not be extradited to Vietnam as this would contravene the principle of non-refoulement and expose him to potential harm and persecution.

We are calling on the Government of Thailand to uphold its commitment to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;  as  well as domestic legislation, including the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act, which prohibits the extradition of individuals to countries where they may face harm.

As Thailand is aiming for a seat at the UNHRC, the government must protect all human rights defenders and activists seeking refuge in Thailand from harassment, abduction, and forced repatriation.

We also urge the international community to closely monitor this case to help prevent the potential deportation of Bdap and any other individual who might face persecution upon return to their respective countries.