Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
6635 St.Olavs Plass
Oslo, 29 October 2014
I write to you as a member of Norwegian PEN, the local section of PEN International, the writer`s and free expression organisation with 140 centres in over 100 countries around the world, including China and many other countries in your region.
Norwegian PEN is highly concerned about the life of the Vietnamese activist Dang Xuan Dieu, who is in danger due to gross mistreatment in prison.
Norwegian PEN requests the Vietnamese government to immediately cease the ill-treatment, physical and psychological abuse of Dang Xuan Dieu while in arbitrary detention. News reports of Dang Xuan Dieu being forced to sleep and eat next to his excrement; denied access to adequate food, clean drinking water and regular showers; and subjected to humiliation and torture reveal the inhumane conditions of his detention.
In January 2013, together with 13 activists Dang Xuan Dieu was sentenced to 13 years in prison for attempting to overthrow the government based on his work as a community organizer who advocated for education for children living in poverty and aid to people with disability and his writings that highlighted the Vietnamese government’s religious persecution.
International human rights organizations, elected officials and foreign embassies in Hanoi have called for Dang Xuan Dieu’s immediate release. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has ruled that Dang Xuan Dieu and his fellow activists’ detention was arbitrary and unlawful.
According to reports, Dang Xuan Dieu, who is currently serving one of the longest politically motivated sentences in Vietnam, has been held in solitary confinement and subject to physical and psychological abuse as punishment for protesting his ill. On several occasions, prison officials forced Dang Xuan Dieu to model while other prisoners painted him into a half-human/half-beast figure.
Dang Xuan Dieu has been on prolonged hunger strikes since April 2014 to demand better treatment. In retaliation, prison officials act with impunity and have reportedly let other prisoners beat and treat Dang Xuan Dieu like a slave.
Despite the signing of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment last November, according to reports from those in detention, the Vietnamese government continues to show blatant disregard for the humane treatment of prisoners.
Norwegian PEN call on the Vietnamese government to release Dang Xuan Dieu immediately and unconditionally and must take all steps to provide him and other prisoners with humane treatment and appropriate access to sanitary facilities in accordance with their international obligations.
Ms Brit Bildøen
Chair of Writers in Prison Committee
COPY: The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs