PEN International is seriously concerned for the health of writer and activist Nguyen Huu Cau, who is now seriously ill after being denied adequate medical care in the prison camp where he is serving a life sentence for his critical writings. PEN 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.

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Background Information

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 October 9, 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 May 23, 1983, he was sentenced to death. His mother submitted an appeal on his behalf and a year later, on May 24, 1985, the Court of Appeals commuted his capital sentence to 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 solitary confinement. He has lost most of his vision and is almost completely deaf. Nguyen Huu Cau suffers from a serious heart condition which is worsening due to a lack of adequate medical attention and deplorable prison conditions.

His daughter, who made an authorized visit to the camp located deep in the jungle, reports that he is in very poor health. Concerns for his well-being are grave. Nguyen Huu Cau is being held at forced labor facility K2 Z30A Xuan Loc, Dong Nai province, Vietnam.

Write A Letter

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

Send Your Letter To

President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Prime Minister
Nguyên Tân Dung
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.

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 30 April 2013.***