On 19 August 2012, prominent human rights lawyer Mr Le Quoc Quan was attacked near his home in Hanoi. He believes that the police were behind the attack. As well as providing legal representation to those who are persecuted for claiming their rights, Le Quoc Quan runs a blog which he writes about various issues including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom. He has also participated in a number of protests against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
On 19 August, at approximately 8:00 pm, Le Quoc Quan was attacked by three men dressed in plain clothes while walking towards his home from a nearby car park. He was struck three times with steel rods, on the knee, thigh and back, and he also sustained injuries to the head and stomach. The attackers fled the scene when passers-by heard his cries for help. He was hospitalised at the Central Hospital of Transport and Communications in Hanoi.
Le Quoc Quan believes that the attack was carried out by police or people connected to the police and that it was meant to discourage his human rights activities.
Le Quoc Quan has been persecuted in the past for what the authorities consider to be his dissident activities. In 2011, he was arrested while protesting outside the trial of fellow human rights defender Mr Cu Huy Ha Vu and detained for a week. In 2008, he was disbarred from Hanoi Bar Association for his human rights activism. Furthermore, in 2007, Le Quoc Quan was detained for three months and charged with taking part in “activities to overthrow the people’s government”. He was later released following international protests.
I condemn the attack on Le Quoc Quan and am deeply concerned for his physical and psychological security. Given the history of harassment and intimidation, I believe that the attack may be motivated by Le Quoc Quan’s legitimate activities in the defence of human rights.
I urge the authorities in Vietnam to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the attack on human rights defender Le Quoc Quan, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Le Quoc Quan and his family;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Vietnam are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.