Vietnamese Dissident Released After 6 Years in Prison, Will Address U.N. at Geneva Human Rights Summit

Vietnamese Dissident Released After 6 Years in Prison,
Will Address U.N. at Geneva Human Rights Summit

25 NGOs to host high-profile activists testifying on urgent human rights situations
in Iran, Russia, Turkey, Tibet, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela, Mauritania & more

Activists accused of plotting to overthrow the communist regime stand listening to verdicts at a People's Court in Vinh city, in the north-central province of Nghe An on January 9, 2013. Vietnam on January 13 jailed 13 activists convicted of plotting to overthrow the communist regime, in a new crackdown criticised by the US as part of a "disturbing" trend in the authoritarian state. AFP PHOTO/Vietnam News AgencyAbove: Dang Xuan Dieu, second from right, was just released last week after 6 years in prison. He was arrested in 2011
and sentenced to 13 years in jail for his Catholic activism and work with pro-democracy group Viet Tan.
He was released under mounting pressure from the EU and human rights organizations.

GENEVA, Jan. 20, 2017 – A coalition of 25 non-governmental human rights groups announced today that Dang Xuan Dieu, a leading Vietnamese dissident freed from prison last week, will speak for the first time about his release at the 9th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights & Democracy, on February 21, 2017.

Dieu was persecuted by Vietnam’s one-party Communist regime for advocating democracy and human rights for the country’s Catholic minority.

Prison guards humiliated and tortured Dieu in part because he refused to wear his prison uniform which bore the word “criminal.” Dieu’s arbitrary detention attracted international attention after he staged hunger strikes for prisoners’ rights, and helped secure his release.

Dang Xuan Dieu 5Lawmakers from across the US and the EU joined human rights groups in 
lobbying the Vietnamese government for the release of Dang Xuan Dieu.

Dieu will be joined by dissidents, activists, victims and relatives of political prisoners from Russia, Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, Mauritania and Tibet, who will be testifying on the human rights situation in their countries. A high-profile North Korean defector, and a young Yazidi woman who wrote a book on her being raped by ISIS terrorists, will also speak.

Mohamed Nasheed, the veteran human rights activist who was elected president of the Maldives only to be arrested and jailed as a political prisoner, will be one of the keynote speakers. Amal Clooney, his lawyer, has received death threats for defending Nasheed. See selected presenters below.

The acclaimed annual conference is timed to take place in Geneva days before foreign ministers gather to open the 2017 U.N. Human Rights Council session.

“It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, which for the ninth year in a row will be organizing the annual event together with a cross-regional coalition of 20 other human rights groups.

The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture.

“The speakers’ compelling and vivid testimonies will aim to stir the conscience of the U.N. to address critical human rights situations around the world,” said Neuer.

Subjects on the program this year include discrimination against women, jailing of journalists, prison camps, Internet freedom, religious intolerance, and the persecution of human rights defenders.

Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at

Admission to this year’s February 21, 2017 summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. For accreditation, program and schedule information, visit The conference will also be available via live webcast.

For media inquiries or to request interviews, please email

2017 Geneva Summit Presenters

Dang Xuan Dieu 8

Just Released: Vietnam’s Most Famous Political Prisoner 

Dang Xuan Dieu is a Catholic activist for democracy in Communist Vietnam. After 6 years in prison, he was released just last week. During his imprisonment, Dieu was a champion of civil disobedience and became the face of Vietnamese dissent.

 Biram Dah Abeid Picture 5

Battling Slavery in Mauritania

Biram Dah Abeid is the founder of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) and the face of Mauritania’s anti-slavery movement. After his recent release from Mauritanian prison, the Christian Science Monitor named him one of five “unsung heroes” of 2016.


Yazidi teen: “I was raped by ISIS as a sex slave”

Shirin is a Yazidi teenager who escaped ISIS sex slavery in 2015. Determined to spread awareness of the horrors of the Yazidi genocide with the world, she recently published her book I Remain a Daughter of the Light.

 Chito Gascon 2

Investigating Philippines President Duterte

Chito Gascon is Chair of the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines, and a staunch opponent of the extrajudicial war on drugs waged by President Dutente. He is leading figure in the country seeking to ensure that human rights are respected.


Uncovering Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Record

James Jones is an Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. He directed and produced Saudi Arabia Uncovered, which used undercover footage on the ground in Saudi Arabia to expose the Kingdom’s human rights violations to a national TV audience in March 2016.

Photo Credit: Chiara Goia Caption: Pres. Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed

Human Rights Hero, President, Political Prisoner

President Mohamed Nasheed, living in exile in Britain since 2016, is considered the Nelson Mandela of the Maldives. A lifelong human rights dissident, he is leader of the opposition and an advocate for democracy in the Maldives. He was violently ousted from the presidency in 2012, and made a political prisoner in 2015.

 Nyima Lhamo

Escaped Tibet to Testify on Slain Religious Leader

Nyima Lhamo escaped Tibet in July 2016, leaving her daughter and mother behind, to speak the truth about the suspicious circumstances of the death of her uncle, prominent Tibetan religious leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. He was a political prisoner for 13 years until his sudden death in 2015.

 Zhanna Nemtsova Square Crop

Russia Today: Daughter of Assassinated Dissident Boris Nemtsov

Zhanna Nemtsova is a journalist and the daughter of the late Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. An outspoken critic of Putin, Nemtsov was assassinated in February 2015. Zhanna carries on the legacy of her father as the founder of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom.

 Can Dundar

Turkey: Assault on Freedom of the Press

Can Dündar is a leading Turkish journalist and the former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper. After he published footage of Turkish State Intelligence transferring weapons to Islamists in Syria, he was arrested and targeted in an assassination attempt. Dündar was forced into exile in June 2016, and now lives in Germany.


Bride of Russian Political Prisoner Struggles for Justice

Anastasia Zotova married jailed Russian activist Ildar Dadin in a February 2016 ceremony inside his prison. Her husband is serving a three-year sentence for peacefully protesting Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Zotova continues to advocate for justice as reports of torture against Dadin have surfaced in recent months.

 Partner NGOs

Organized by UN Watch together with a cross-regional coalition of 25 other human rights NGOs.


On the eve of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 2017 session,
courageous champions of human rights from around the world will
unite to place urgent situations on the international agenda.

February 21, 2017
Centre International de Conférences Genève
17 rue de Varembé, 1202 Geneva

Register now:

 Interprétation simultanée en français



The Struggle for Reform with Michel Tran Duc

Michel Tran Duc, Viet Tan activist, pro-democracy organizer, and the son of an exiled Vietnamese intellectual, addresses the 4th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks. Full remarks Catherine Fiankan-Bokonga: I now give the floor to Mr. Michel Tran Duc from Vietnam, who arrived

Political Prisoners

Detained in Darkness with Nguyen Van Dai

Nguyen Van Dai, an exiled Vietnamese pro-democracy activist and lawyer who spent four years in Vietnamese prison for spreading propaganda against the state, addresses the 11th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On lack of civil liberties in Vietnam: “Discussing

Political Prisoners

Surviving Solitary Confinement with Dang Xuang Dieu

Dang Xuang Dieu, a formerly imprisoned Vietnamese human rights activist, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On what inspired his activism: I had witnessed injustices every day and felt like I had to do something. I looked


Beyond Bars: A Story of Defiance and Hope with Nguyen Tien Trung

Vietnamese pro-democracy activist and former political prisoner, Trung Tien Nguyen, addresses the 16th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for his remarks. Full Remarks: Right now, as I stand here today, nearly 100 million Vietnamese people are suffocating under the Communist Party of Vietnam’s authoritarian