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WiPC concerned that detained writer not receiving urgently required medical care

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of writer and journalist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, who was reportedly arrested on 21 April 2007 for her critical writings. PEN considers her to be held solely for peacefully exercising her right to free expression. Thuy suffers from diabetes and advanced tuberculosis, for which she has been receiving hospital treatment, and there are grave concerns that she is not receiving the medical care she urgently requires in detention.

According to PEN's information, Thuy was arrested at her home in Hanoi on 21 April, where she had reportedly been held under house arrest since November 2006. She is believed to be charged with violating Article 88 of the Criminal Code for the dissemination of information deemed by the authorities to be harmful to the state. The charges reportedly follow the publication on the Internet of a number of essays by Thuy calling for democracy. She is also reported to be accused of membership in the underground pro-democracy group Bloc 8406, of supporting a dissident human rights organisation, and of illegally organising a trade union. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

Thuy is an established novelist, poet, essayist and editor of the underground dissident magazine "To Quoc" ("Fatherland"). She has been under heavy surveillance and harassment since September 2006 for her critical writings published online. She has been repeatedly denounced and humiliated in public meetings organized by the authorities, including a "People's Court" in October 2006, where police gathered 300 people in a public stadium to insult her. Mobs have entered her home calling her a traitor and a prostitute and threatening to beat her. Police have told her they cannot protect her, and that the only way to do so is for her to abandon her activism. She and her husband have been harassed at their workplaces. In September and October 2006, she was continuously interrogated and detained by authorities, and in November she was dismissed from her job. She was held under strict house arrest during the November 2006 APEC meetings.

Thuy was featured in International PEN's 2007 International Women's Day action (8 March) ( http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.php?pid=33&aid=559&type=current ) and is also one of this year's Hellman Hammet Awards Winners ( http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/02/06/vietna15277_txt.htm ).

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