February 11, 2009

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President, 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

Lê Doan Hop
Minister of Culture and Information
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our growing concern for the well being of writer, poet, and human rights advocate Ho Thi Bich Khuong.

According to our information, Ho Thi Bich Khuong was arrested at an internet café in Nam Dan district on April 25, 2007, for publishing reports on overseas web sites regarding social injustice and human rights violations in Vietnam. Ho Thi Bich Khuong, who is well known for her writings in support of Dan Oan, was charged with “storing cultural products with contents against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of the Penal Code and sentenced to two years in prison and three years’ administrative detention on April 24, 2008. She is currently being held in solitary confinement at Labor Camp 6, Thanh My village, Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An Province. After a visit on October 30, 2008, her sister reported that Ho Thi Bich Khuong was heavily bruised from abuse and in poor health. She has reportedly been denied family visits since December 2008.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned about reports that Ho Thi Bich Khuong has been abused in prison, and believes that she is being held solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory. We therefore call for her immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Le Cong Phung
Ambassador of Vietnam to the United States
1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
Fax: (202) 861-0917

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