Disappearance of Dong Guangping: Government of Vietnam Must Respond to UN Human Rights Experts

February 14, 2023

Reacting to news that the government of Vietnam has failed to respond to urgent questions from three independent United Nations experts seeking clarification about the fate and whereabouts of her father, disappeared Chinese human rights defender Dong Guangping, Katherine Dong said that,

The government of Vietnam continues to torment my family, by refusing to explain why they arrested my father almost six months ago, and what has happened to him since. I had hoped he would be safely reunited with us here in Canada by now, instead we are left to agonize about his safety. We don’t even know where he is. They won’t answer my questions.  They won’t answer questions posed by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada.  Now they refuse to answer the United Nations. This is unacceptable and an affront to international law. Vietnamese officials must answer our simple question, ‘where is Dong Guangping?’

Chinese human rights defender Dong Guangping was arrested in Hanoi by Vietnamese security forces on August 24, 2022, while he was awaiting resettlement to Canada as a refugee, where he was to be reunited with his family after nearly seven years of separation.  There has been no news of his fate or whereabouts since that time.  Close to six months later, his family and supporters are concerned that he may have been unlawfully handed over to Chinese officials and may be imprisoned somewhere in China, held in incommunicado detention.

On December 15, 2022, three Special Procedures mandate holders within the UN human rights system sent an extensive communication to the government of Vietnam, outlining their serious concerns about Dong Guangping’s case. These independent human rights experts – the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association – intervened because of concerning reports regarding the “arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and imminent risk of refoulement to China by the Vietnamese authorities of Chinese refugee and human rights defender Mr. Dong Guangping.”

The independent experts lay out six comprehensive questions directed to the Vietnamese government, including that they “provide detailed information on the fate and whereabouts of Mr. Dong Guangping and all the measures taken by the authorities to search for him.”

The Vietnamese government was given sixty days to respond to the United Nations experts, but failed to do so. The independent experts have, therefore, publicized their communication to the Vietnamese government, reinforcing  the urgent need for a response.   The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance had also initiated its “urgent procedure” in a communication to the Vietnamese government on December 1, 2022. The Working Group has “reiterate[ed] the call on the Vietnamese authorities to take all necessary measures as soon as possible to investigate and conduct search activities to ascertain Mr. Dong’s fate and whereabouts.”

Dong Guangping’s family and supporters appreciate the support shown by the Canadian government and continue to look to them to pursue all possible avenues to ascertain what has happened to Dong Guangping and facilitate his reunion with his family in Toronto.

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