20 April 2011
PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee strongly protests the harsh seven year prison sentence handed to dissident writer and activist Cu Huy Ha Vu on 4 April 2011.. PEN is calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Viet Nam is a signatory. It also seeks assurances of his well-being in detention.
Leading human rights defender and environmental activist, Cu Huy Ha Vu, was arrested on 5 November 2010 after publishing many critical articles online and giving interviews to foreign media. He was convicted of "conducting propaganda against the state" by a court in Ha Noi on 4 April 2011 and sentenced to seven years in prison and three years of house arrest at a trial which reportedly fell short of international standards of fairness.
Vu is the son of a celebrated poet who was also a leading revolutionary and confidante of the late President Ho Chi Minh. He is known for his environmental activism, and had previously twice sued the Prime Minister in an attempt to stop a controversial bauxite mining project which he believed would be harmful to the environment.
Dissident writers Pham Hong Son and Le Quoc Quan, both former main cases of PEN International, were reportedly arrested outside the court as they tried to observe Vu's trial. They were held until 13 April 2011 before being released without charge.
Dozens of peaceful political critics and activists have been sentenced to long prison terms in Viet Nam since its government began a concerted crackdown on freedom of expression in October 2009. They include pro-democracy activist and former Communist Party official Vi Duc Hoi, sentenced to eight years in prison and five years' probationary detention on 26 January 2011 for posting articles online calling for democracy.
For further background information please see:
Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/04/07/vietnam-free-political-and-religious-detainees