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Fears for health of imprisoned Vietnamese writer

PEN International is seriously concerned for the health of writer and activist Nguyen Huu Cau, who is seriously ill and denied adequate medical care in the prison camp where he is serving a life-time sentence for his critical writings. PEN International protests his imprisonment, and demands his immediate and unconditional release 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 PEN's information, Nguyen Huu Cau, 67, is a poet, songwriter, human rights defender and anti-corruption activist. He was arrested by public security police on 9 October 1982 for having authored an 'incriminating' manuscript of songs and poems. Nguyen Huu Cau had reportedly noted allegations of rape and bribery committed by two high level officers on the back of the pages of the original manuscript.

Nguyen Huu Cau 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 on 24 May 1985, the Court of Appeals commuted his capital sentence into 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, Nguyen Huu Cau has reportedly been held in harsh solitary confinement. He has apparently now lost most of his vision and is almost completely deaf. Nguyen Huu Cau suffers from a serious heart condition, which is worsening because of the lack of adequate medical attention and the deplorable prison conditions. He was recently reported to be in very poor health, according to his daughter returning from an authorized periodical visit to the camp deep in the jungle.

Concerns for his well-being are acute. Nguyen Huu Cau is being held at forced labour camp K2 Z30A Xuan Loc, Dong Nai province, Vietnam.

Please send appeals:

* Expressing serious concern for the health of imprisoned writer and activist Nguyen Huu Cau and urging that he be given full access to all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency;

* Calling for his immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the ICCPR to which Vietnam is a signatory.

Appeals to be sent to:

His Excellency Truong Tan Sang
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

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.

Click here for some Vietnamese embassies in the world.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with Writers in Prison Committee, PEN International if sending appeals after 30 April 2013.***

Download samples of Nguyen Huu Cau's poems and songs, translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Hoang Bao Viet of Suisse Romande PEN.