Vietnam: Serious health concerns for two detained writers

English PEN is seriously concerned for the health of two detained writers in Vietnam. Writer, activist and Honorary member of English PEN Tran Khai Thanh Thuy has been detained since 8 October 2009 without access to the medical treatment she urgently requires. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy suffers from diabetes and tuberculosis, and there are serious concerns that her health is deteriorating in prison.

We are also gravely concerned for the well-being of Father Nguyen Van Ly, who reportedly suffered a stroke in prison on 14 November 2009 and has been transferred to hospital in Hanoi.

We are seeking immediate assurances of their well being, and urge that they are given full access to all necessary medical care. We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of both writers on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Vietnam is a signatory.

According to our information, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was arrested on 8 October 2009 after she publicly expressed her support for six dissidents facing trial. On the day of her arrest an incident took place at her home, the details of which remain unclear. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy has subsequently been charged with assault, although it is widely believed that she was in fact the victim of an assault and is targeted for her critical writings and activism. Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is an established novelist, poet, essayist and former editor of the underground dissident magazine To Quoc (Fatherland), who has been under heavy surveillance and harassment since September 2006 for her critical writings published online. She was previously detained in April 2007 and held for nine months, and since her release in January 2008 she has been under heavy surveillance (see previous alerts). She is currently being held at Hoa Lo Moi Prison, near Hanoi. As well as being an Honorary Member of English PEN, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is a member of the Union of Writers and the Club of Women Poets of Hanoi, and is a recipient of the 2008 Hellman Hammet Award. For more information, please click here.

Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest and co-editor of the underground online magazine Tu do Ngôn luan (Free Speech), was arrested on 19 February 2007 and sentenced to eight years in prison on 30 March 2007 for ‘Conducting propaganda against the State’. Nguyen Van Ly is a leading member of the pro-democracy movement “Bloc 8406”. He was previously detained from 1977-1978, and again from 1983-1992 for his activism in support of freedom of expression and religion. He was sentenced again in October 2001 to 15 years in prison for his online publication of an essay on human rights violations in Vietnam, and was a main case of International PEN. He was released under amnesty in February 2005 (see previous alerts).

Please send appeals:

• Expressing serious concern for the health of detained writers Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and Nguyen Van Ly, and urging that they are given full access to all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency;
• Calling for their immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the ICCPR to which Vietnam is signatory.

Appeals to be sent to:

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Nguyên Tân Dung
Prime Minister
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Lê Doan Hop
Minister of Culture and Information
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
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.

Vietnamese Embassy, London, United Kingdom
His Excellency Tran Quang Hoan
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
12 – 14 Victoria Road
W8 5RD
United Kingdom

British Embassy, Hanoi, Vietnam
His Excellency Mr Mark Kent
Central Building
4th floor
31 Hai Ba Trung
Fax: ( 84) (4)3936 0561 (for Embassy in general)


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