English PEN joins PEN International in expressing grave concern for the health of blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) who has been on hunger strike since 23 June 2013 in protest at his detention conditions.
Nguyen Van Hai is currently serving a twelve-year prison sentence for ‘conducting propaganda against the state’. He is held in solitary confinement without access to family visits. PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as he is held solely for peacefully expressing his opinions, and on humanitarian grounds. For more information on his case, please visit the PEN International website.
English PEN is among ten human rights organisations who have today written to President Obama urging him to raise our concerns for Nguyen Van Hai with President Truong Tan Sang during his visit to the US this week. For the full text of the letter, please see below.
Please send appeals:
- Expressing grave concern for the health and safety of blogger Nguyen Van Hai, who is reported to be seriously ill as a result of a hunger strike, poor treatment and lack of medical care in detention;
- Calling for his immediate and unconditional release as he is held solely for peacefully expressing his opinions, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a state party, and on humanitarian grounds;
- Expressing alarm at the large number of writers and journalists currently on trial or imprisoned in Vietnam for the peaceful expression of their views, and calling for the immediate and unconditional release anyone held solely for such reasons.
Appeals to be sent to:
His Excellency Truong Tan San
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Vietnamese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for Vietnam in your country to forward your appeals. It would also be advantageous to ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case.
His Excellency Mr Vu Quang Minh
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
12-14 Victoria Road,
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 ‘email@example.com’ subject=”Freedom for Nguyen Van Hai”]
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 the health and safety of blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) who is reported to be seriously ill as a result of a hunger strike, poor treatment and lack of medical care in detention.
I join PEN in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Nguyen Van Hai who I believe is being held solely for peacefully expressing his opinions, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a state party.
Furthermore, I am alarmed at the large number of writers and journalists currently on trial or imprisoned in Vietnam for the peaceful expression of their views, and call for the immediate and unconditional release anyone held solely for such reasons.
I would welcome your comments on my appeal.
The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
24 July 2013
Dear Mr President,
The signatory organisations respectfully request that you raise with the Vietnamese Government the arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr Nguyen Van Hai (popularly known as “Dieu Cay”), imprisoned prominent blogger and human rights activist. We understand that President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam will meet with you on 25 July 2013 and we sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to discuss Mr Nguyen’s case with him.
Mr Nguyen is a former member of the Vietnamese army, and one of the pioneer bloggers of Vietnam. He is currently imprisoned for exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, and for his activities as a human rights defender. Prior to his arrest, Mr Nguyen was a co-founder of the independent Free Vietnamese Journalists’ Club. On his blog, he wrote about the human rights situation in Vietnam. In 2009, Human Rights Watch awarded Mr Nguyen the Hellman–Hammett Award “for writers who have suffered persecution as a result of their writings.” Amnesty International denoted Mr Nguyen a prisoner of conscience. In April 2012, Civil Rights Defenders named Mr Nguyen as its Human Rights Defender of the Month.
On 24 September 2012, Mr Nguyen was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 5 years probationary detention for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88, Section 2, of the Vietnam Penal Code. His appeal was subsequently denied.
From 23 June 2013 until now, Mr Nguyen has been on hunger strike in prison to protest the cruel treatment and solitary confinement he is being subjected to in Prison No. 6 in Nghe An Province, Vietnam. His detention conditions violate international law standards on the core minimum principles for treatment of detainees. Mr Nguyen is also on hunger strike to protest against the cruel treatment of prisoners of conscience by prison guards. The prison where Mr Nguyen is being held has been notoriously known for the guards’ cruel treatment of prisoners.
Mr Nguyen’s family is gravely concerned for his health and safety; his previous hunger strike, also conducted in protest against inhumane detention conditions, lasted about 28 days and almost killed him due to the adverse effects on his organs. His current health is in a critical state, as he has been on hunger strike for the past 30 days.
Mr Nguyen’s arrest and detention are in violation of Vietnam’s obligations under international law, in particular Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which impose duties on the government to protect Mr Nguyen’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. His treatment also contravenes state duties to respect and ensure core minimum principles for treatment of detainees.
Given that Mr Nguyen is in a life-threatening situation, which poses to him an imminent threat of on-going damage of a very grave nature if his detention continues, we hope you will seize the opportunity of President Sang’s upcoming visit to request the immediate release of Mr Nguyen, especially on medical grounds.
Thank you for your kind consideration of our request. Please do not hesitate to have your staff contact us should you have any questions or need any additional information about this important case.
Media Defence – Southeast Asia (MDSEA)
Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT)
Réseau Avocats Sans Frontières / ASF Network
ASF Network Coordinator
Writers at Risk Programme Managercat@englishpen.org
Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI)
Senior Legal Counsel
PEN American Center
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
Marian Botsford Fraser
Chair, PEN International Writers in Prison Committee
Reporters Without Borders
Head of Asia-Pacific Desk
Southeast Asian Press Alliance