Letter to Secretary Clinton from relatives of Vietnamese prisoners

10 11 2009

Thu gui ClintonRe: Request for the U.S. State Department to intervene on behalf of prisoners of conscience during the Human Rights Dialogue with Vietnam

Vietnam – November 6, 2009

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
United States Secretary of State

Dear Madame Secretary:

We have been informed that the United States and Vietnam will hold a human rights dialogue in Washington D.C. on November 9, 2009.

At this meeting, we hope you will call on the Government of Vietnam to release all prisoners of conscience, including our relatives who have been arbitrarily arrested and unjustly convicted.

1/ The nine individuals who faced trials from October 6-9, 2009 include:

  • Poet Tran Duc Thach, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Teacher Vu Hung, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Engineer Pham Van Troi, sentenced to 4 years in prison and 4 years probation.
  • Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, sentenced to 6 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • University student Ngo Quynh, sentenced to 3 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Van Tinh, sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Manh Son, sentenced to 3 years 6 months in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, sentenced to 4 years in prison and 3 years probation.
  • Mr. Nguyen Kim Nhan, sentenced to 2 years in prison and 2 years probation.

These are patriotic citizens who have campaigned peacefully for freedom, democracy and human rights for Vietnam—rights clearly spelled out in the Vietnamese constitution. Yet they were jailed, trialed, and treated in an inhumane manner.

Since their arrest and during the trials, they protested the baseless charges of the Vietnamese communist government and court. All have agreed to appeal the sentences and to condemn the unjust convictions.

As part of his protest, teacher Vu Hung, currently held at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi, has waged a continuous hunger strike since he was brought to court on October 7th. On November 6th, his family was permitted to visit and was told that his weight had fallen to 30 kilograms. Although prison guards carry him and his health has been significantly weakened, he is determined to continue the hunger strike to protest the conviction and affirm his innocence. He intends on continuing the strike for 100 days. It is unclear how his health will hold out.

Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc, held at prison camp B14 in Hanoi, currently suffers from severe back-pain causing numbness to both arms. He has heart pains and hemorrhoids leading to loss of blood. His family is deeply concerned for his health but have not been allowed to visit him or receive any information on his condition since October 11, 2009.

2/ In addition to the nine individuals who were recently trialed, we raise the case of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy. Because of her support for these democracy activists, security police stopped her from attending the trial in Hai Phong and later staged an assault in which she was arrested for assaulting another person. She was arrested on October 8 and is currently detained at Hoa Lo prison in Hanoi. She suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure but prison authorities have denied repeated attempts by family to provide her with medication.

3/ Finally, we note the case of Pham Thanh Nghien, 32 years old. She was arrested in September 2008 and has been detained without trial at Tran Phu prison in Hai Phong. She has health problems and has not been allowed a single family visit.

Madame Secretary, we urgently call for your intervention, to request the Government of Vietnam to consider immediately releasing all the above individuals. That they were jailed solely for promoting human rights is outrageous. To let these citizens, who cherish freedom, justice and national independence, to die from a hunger strike or illness is inhumane.

Thank you for your attention.

Signed jointly,

  • Mr. Nguyen Van Duong, brother-in-law of poet Tran Duc Thach
  • Mrs. Ly Thi Tuyet Mai, wife of teacher Vu Hung
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang, wife of engineer Pham Van Troi
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Nga, wife of writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia
  • Mr. Ngo Quyen, brother of university student Ngo Quynh
  • Mrs. Duong Thi Hai, wife of Mr. Nguyen Van Tinh
  • Mrs. Bui Thi Re, wife of Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc
  • Mrs. Ngo Thi Loc, wife of Mr. Nguyen Kim Nhan
  • Mrs. Nguyen Thi Loi, mother of Ms. Pham Thanh Nghien
  • Mrs. Le Thi Thanh Phong, mother of novelist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy
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