[Vietnam] Fears for the health of imprisoned writer and activist

English PEN joins PEN International in expressing grave concern for the health and well-being of writer and activist Nguyên Huu Câu. He is understood to be seriously ill and to have been denied adequate medical care in the prison camp where he is serving a life sentence for his critical writings.

Poet, songwriter, human rights defender and anti-corruption activist Nguyên Huu Câu was arrested by public security police on 9 October 1982 in relation to an ‘incriminating’ manuscript of songs and poems. Nguyên Huu Câu had reportedly noted allegations of rape and bribery committed by two high level officers on the back of the pages of the original manuscript.

Nguyên Huu Câu was accused of committing ‘destructive acts’ that were supposedly ‘damaging’ to the government’s image and on 23 May 1983 he was sentenced to death. His mother submitted an appeal on his behalf and two years later, on 24 May 1985, the Court of Appeals commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. The manuscript was reportedly not used as evidence in the trial against him, in order to protect the two officers concerned.

In the many years since, Nguyên Huu Câu has reportedly been held in harsh solitary confinement. He has apparently now lost most of his vision and is almost completely deaf. He also suffers from a serious heart condition, which is worsening because of the lack of adequate medical attention and the deplorable prison conditions. Concerns for his well-being are acute.

TAKE URGENT ACTION

Send messages of support to Nguyên Huu Câu and his family

Sending messages of support directly to writers in prison has been shown to afford detainees better treatment in prison, as well as providing much-needed moral support to writers and their families. If you would be interested in sending a message of support to Nguyên Huu Câu and his family, please email us to request the relevant addresses.

Send a letter of appeal

  • Expressing serious concern for the health of imprisoned writer and activist Nguyên Huu Câu and urging that he is given full access to all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of  Nguyên Huu Câu on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the ICCPR to which Vietnam is signatory.

Appeals to

His Excellency Truong Tan Sang
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Hanoi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
 
Nguyên Tân Dung
Prime Minister
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Hanoi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

His Excellency Mr Vu Quang Minh
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
12-14 Victoria Road,
London
W8 5RD
Email: consular@vietnamembassy.org.uk

You may wish to write to the authorities using the form below. A sample letter is provided, but we would highly recommend personalising your appeal.

[ecampaign ‘to=consular@vietnamembassy.org.uk’ subject=”Urgent appeal for imprisoned writer Nguyen Huu Cau”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express my grave concern for poet, songwriter, human rights defender and anti-corruption activist Nguyên Huu Câu.

According to PEN’s information, Nguyên Huu Câu was arrested by public security police on 9 October 1982 in relation to an ‘incriminating’ manuscript of songs and poems. He had reportedly noted allegations of rape and bribery committed by two high level officers on the back of the pages of the original manuscript.

Nguyên Huu Câu was accused of committing ‘destructive acts’ that were supposedly ‘damaging’ to the government’s image and on 23 May 1983 he was sentenced to death. His mother submitted an appeal on his behalf and two years later, on 24 May 1985, the Court of Appeals commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. The annotated manuscript was reportedly not used as evidence in the trial against him, in order to protect the two officers concerned.

In the many years since, Nguyên Huu Câu has reportedly been held in harsh solitary confinement. He has apparently now lost most of his vision and is almost completely deaf. He also suffers from a serious heart condition, which is worsening because of the lack of adequate medical attention and the deplorable prison conditions. Concerns for his well-being are acute.

I believe that Nguyên Huu Câu is detained in violation of his right to free expression, and call for his immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory. I also strongly urge the Vietnamese authorities to ensure that he is given full access to all necessary medical care as a matter of utmost urgency. 

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely

[/ecampaign]

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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