February 27, 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 concern regarding the well-being of Internet writer and professor Vu Van Hung.

According to our information, Vu Van Hung, 43, was arrested on September 18, 2008, when Security Police Officers entered and searched his house. Although his family was informed that Vu Van Hung would be prosecuted under Article 88 of the Penal Code for “Conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” the government has yet to bring any formal charges against him. On January 23, 2009, Vu Van Hung’s wife met with newly amnestied prisoners who had shared his prison cell at camp B14, district Thanh Liet Thanh Tri, Ha Noi. They reported serious concerns for Vu Van Hung’s health and well-being following a month-long hunger strike that he recently staged to protest alleged ill-treatment by other inmates and by interrogators. Vu Van Hung has reportedly been hospitalized several times in recent weeks and was relocated from his prison cell to an undisclosed location, apparently as a result of his failing health. His whereabouts remain unknown and concerns for his welfare are mounting.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned for Vu Van Hung’s wellbeing, and we request immediate information regarding his health and whereabouts as a matter of urgency. We believe he is being detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory, and we therefore respectfully call his immediate and unconditional release as well as the release of all others detained for the peaceful exercise of their rights.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Hannah Pakula                 
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee  

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

His Excellency Nguyen Tam Chien
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States of America
Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 861-0917

>> Back to Rapid Action