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RAN 53/11 29 September 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International welcomes the release under amnesty of writers Tran Duc Thach and Nguyen Van Tinh. PEN International continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers and journalists currently detained in Vietnam with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory.

On 30 August 2011, dissident writers Tran Duc Thach and Nguyen Van Tinh were included in an amnesty celebrating Vietnamese National Day (2 September). According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), they were the only political prisoners among more than 10,000 to be freed (for the full report and an interview with Tran Duc Thach on his release click here). Both writers were arrested in September 2008 as part of an ongoing crackdown on peaceful dissent in Vietnam. They were tried under Article 88 of the Penal Code for ‘propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’ and were sentenced to three years in prison.

Tran Duc Thach, aged 59, is a prolific poet, internet writer and member of the Association of Writers of Nghe An province. He is known for his writings exposing corruption, injustice, and human rights abuses. He is the recipient of the 2010 Hellman Hammet award, administered by Human Rights Watch. Tran’s sentence was due to expire two weeks after his release. Nguyen Van Tinh, aged 68, is the co-editor of the underground review To Quoc (The Nation). He was arrested for online articles and essays published between November 2006 and September 2008. He was freed four months before the expiry of his sentence.

At the time of their release, both writers were in very poor health after being held in Nam Ha province’s labour camp under appalling conditions.

Useful links:
• For the BBC’s country profile: http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/jail-08302011173720.html< Please send appeals:
Welcoming the release of writers Tran Duc Thach and Nguyen Van Tinh;
Expressing serious concern about the large numbers of dissidents and writers currently detained in Vietnam, many of whom are serving lengthy sentences;
Continuing to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Vietnam in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory;

Appeals to be sent to:
His Excellency Nguyen Minh Triet
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Hanoi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Minister of Public Security
Lt Gen Tran Dai Quang
Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Fax: + 844 3942 0223

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Pham Binh Manh
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam Street
Ba Dinh district
Ha Noi
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Fax: + 844 3823 1872

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 10 November 2011. ***

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-internationalpen.org

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