We read that Vietnam continues to experiment with a market economy and is more open to the outside world. What is less publicised is how its leaders arrest, imprison and torture writers who criticise the authorities' stance on democracy, human rights and religious freedom. A poignant case is that of 74-year-old Thich Huyen Quang, the distinguished author and philosopher and the country's most-respected Buddhist leader. Detained since 1982 for "anti-government activities" and under arrest since 1994 for his open letter against policies curtailing freedom of speech and religious expression, he is held isolated and incommunicado in a house surrounded by guards. His life is in danger due to malnutrition, lack of medical treatment and harassment by the security police. The European foreign affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, has expressed deep concern and PEN has launched its Vietnam campaign supporting those who, like Thich Huyen Quang, are persecuted by the Vietnamese government, a member of the UN Human Rights Committee.
Please send appeals to:
His Excellency Tran Duc Luong
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Bureau du President
Hoang Hoa Tham
(Fax: +84 4 823 4137)
Ania Corless is a member of the PEN Writers in Prison Committee and an agent at David Higham Associates