Vietnam: Detained writer ill-treated
Published: February 12, 2009
English PEN is seriously concerned about reports that leading Internet writer, poet, human rights defender and member of the pro-democracy group Bloc 8406, Ho Thi Bich Khuong, has been ill-treated and is in poor health. She is serving a two-year sentence for publishing reports on overseas websites.
According to our information, Ho Thi Bich Khuong was arrested on 25 April 2007, at an internet café in Nam Dan district, Nghe An province, central Vietnam, for publishing reports on overseas websites on social injustice and human rights violations. She is known for her writings in support of 'Dan Oan', women farmers who have had their land seized. Ho Thi Bich Khuong's computer and documents were confiscated from her home after her arrest.
Charged with 'storing cultural products with contents against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam' under Article 88 of the Penal Code, Ho Thi Bich Khuong was sentenced to two years in prison and three years' administrative detention on 24 April 2008 by a provincial court in Nghe An. She is currently detained at Labour Camp 6, Thanh My village, Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An Province, where she is held in solitary confinement. Her sister reported after visiting her on 30 October 2008 that she has heavy bruising from ill-treatment in prison, and that she is in poor health. Since December 2008 she has been reportedly denied family visits.
Ho Thi Bich Khuong was previously detained in March 2005 and sentenced to six months in prison for her dissident writings. After her release she was subject to frequent brief detentions and harassment, including threats and attack. On 12 February 2007 she was seriously injured after being hit by a motorcyclist, thought to be a member of the security police. Her current imprisonment was not known to PEN until November 2008.
Ho Thi Bich Khuong was born in 1967. In June 2006 her husband drowned in the Lam river under unexplained circumstances. She has a ten-year-old daughter.
English PEN is calling for her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and seeks assurances of her well being. We also strongly urge that she is given full access to all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency, and that she is allowed family visits.
For the BBC's country profile on Vietnam: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1243338.stm
Please send appeals:
• Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Ho Thi Bich Khuong in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory;
• Seeking assurances of Ho Thi Bich Khuong's well being and guarantees that her basic rights are being respected, in accordance with Article 7 and Article 10 (1) of the ICCPR;
• Urging that she is given full access to all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency, and that she is allowed family visits.
Appeals to be sent to:
His Excellency Nguyên Minh TriêtPresident of the Socialist Republic of VietnamC/o Ministry of Foreign AffairsHanoiSocialist Republic of Vietnam
Nguyên Tân DungPrime Minister 1 Hoang Hoa Tham StreetHanoiSocialist Republic of Vietnam
Lê Doan HopMinister of Culture and Information1 Hoang Hoa Tham StreetHanoiSocialist 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.
His Excellency Tran Quang Hoan Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam12 - 14 Victoria RoadW8 5RDUnited KingdomFax: 020 7937 6108 or 004420- 7565 3853Email: firstname.lastname@example.org