Vietnam has refused entry to the secretary-general of the International Federation for Human Rights, Debbie Stothard, who was to attend the World Economic Forum in the country next week, the Swiss-based international foundation says.
Hanoi is hosting the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (The Association of South East Asian Nations) on September 11-13, an event touted as the biggest diplomatic gathering in the Southeast Asian country this year.
Stothard was unable to enter Vietnam on Sunday as she arrived at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi to attend the event, WEF spokeswoman Fon Mathuros told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Despite sweeping economic reform and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate criticism.
The country has jailed several human rights activists in recent years, accusing them of attempting to overthrow the state.
“We regret the government’s decision to deny her entry,” Mathuros said.
“Whatever inconvenience I am being subjected to is nothing compared to the attacks on Vietnam human rights defenders and the media,” Stothard said in a tweet.
“I hoped that hosting the prestigious WEF would help them realise that pluralism, human rights and freedom are necessary to economic development,” she tweeted.