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Blogger Nguyen Van Hai reportedly critically injured in prison; concerns for safety

(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is alarmed at unconfirmed reports that journalist and blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) has lost a hand in prison. PEN calls upon the authorities to provide full details of the incident and Nguyen Van Hai's condition as a matter of urgency, and to allow him immediate access to family visits, legal representation and medical treatment. PEN protests the continued detention of Nguyen Van Hai in the strongest possible terms, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory, and on humanitarian grounds.

According to PEN's information, on 5 July 2011, when Nguyen Van Hai's wife attempted to bring food and medication to her husband in prison, she was again denied access to him as she has been for the past ten months. She was then told by a prison security guard that he had lost an arm or a hand in prison (the Vietnamese word "tay" can mean either "arm" or "hand"). No further details were given about his condition or how and when the accident happened, and the report has not been officially confirmed.

Nguyen Van Hai should have been released on 20 October 2010 on completion of a two-and-a-half year sentence. However, on 18 October 2010 he was reportedly transferred to a Public Security detention camp in Ho Chi Minh city, apparently on charges of 'Conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam' under Article 88 of the Criminal Code. The charges are said to be based on his online writings for the Free Journalist Network in Viet Nam, published prior to his arrest in 2008. He has been held incommunicado, without access to family visits, letters or medical and food supplies since 18 October 2010. Concerns for his welfare are acute.

Nguyen Van Hai (aka Nguyen Hoang Hai/Dieu Cay), independent journalist and blogger, was arrested on 19 April 2008 and sentenced on 10 September 2008 to two and a half years-imprisonment by the Vietnamese People's Court at Ho Chi Minh city for alleged tax fraud, although he is widely believed to be targeted for his criticism of Vietnamese government policy. He has reportedly been subject to torture, ill-treatment and hard labour in prison. He is known for his critical internet postings calling for greater democracy and human rights in Vietnam and his participation in protests against Chinese foreign policy. Dieu Cay was one of the founding members of the Club of Free Journalists (Cau Lac Bo Nha Bao Tu Do) in 2006. He is a recipient of the 2009 Hellman Hammet Award.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Please send appeals:
• expressing alarm at unconfirmed reports that Nguyen Van Hai has lost an arm or hand in prison, and calling upon the authorities to provide full details about Nguyen Van Hai's condition as a matter of urgency, and to allow him full access to family visits, legal representation and medical treatment.
• protesting the continued detention of Nguyen Van Hai in the strongest possible terms, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory, and on humanitarian grounds.


APPEALS TO BE SENT TO:

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Hanoi
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.

For some Vietnamese embassies in the world:
http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-of/Vietnam

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 31 August 2011.***

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying


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