Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer was able to meet with a number of human rights defenders during his visit, including lawyers, bloggers and advocates. He was also able to meet with some religious leaders. In a statement, the US Embassy, Hanoi said: “While Mr. Baer was able to meet well-known activist Father Nguyen Van Ly in prison, we were troubled that authorities prevented a private meeting with activists Nguyen Van Dai and Dr. Pham Hong Son as planned.”
On 13 April the Embassy told Mr. Dai that the Vietnamese authorities had allowed him to go to the meeting. However, on the same day over twenty security officers and police came and blocked the way to Mr. Dai’s home. When a political officer from the Embassy tried to pick Mr. Dai up from his house that afternoon, security officers instructed ten elderly women to block the officer’s car. Unable to reach Mr. Dai’s home, the officer had no option but to leave. According to Mr. Dai, approximately ten of his supporters were arrested by security officers when they came to see what was happening. They were detained and questioned for five hours.
Andrew Johnston, Advocacy Director at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said, “CSW is encouraged by Vietnam’s stated commitment to an ongoing conversation on human rights both inside and outside Vietnam-US human rights dialogue, and by the broad range of Vietnamese activists who were able to meet with the US delegation. However, we are concerned that religious freedom advocate Nguyen Van Dai and businessman and activist Dr Pham Hong Son were prevented from meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary Baer. Constructive dialogue depends on mutual trust: when the authorities say delegates are free to meet any Vietnamese citizen, they should follow through with that assurance.”