Vietnam: Fears for the health of imprisoned writer

2 April 2013

 RAPID ACTION NETWORK • 28 March 2013 


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.

Arrested in 1982
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 the 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 a year later, 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.

Harsh solitary confinement
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.

Samples of Nguyen Huu Cau’s poems and songs are published on PEN’s website, translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Hoang Bao Viet of Suisse Romande PEN.

PEN encourages you to please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 30 April 2013.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy DOT mccann AT

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