In January 2019, Vietnamese-Australian activist Chau Van Kham was arrested in Vietnam and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment on charges of ‘terrorism to oppose the government’.
Chau is a member of Việt Tân (the Reform Revolutionary Party of Vietnam), a pro-democracy organisation whose members work to establish democratic reform in Vietnam through peaceful, political means. The organisation has been designated by the Vietnamese government as a ‘terrorist’ group. Kham was a key organiser of pro-reform rallies among the Vietnamese community in Australia.
In March 2020, Chau lost his final appeal against the sentence. No independent witnesses were present at the trial. Chau subsequently disappeared inside Vietnam’s prison system for four months, during which he had no access to consular visits by Australian officials or family contact. He was relocated at Thu Duc prison outside Ho Chi Minh in June.
Chau has numerous health issues and is dependent on medication for high blood-pressure, glaucoma, and kidney stones. He is held in a cell for 23 hours a day.
Prison conditions in Vietnam are notoriously harsh, with regular reports of poor food quality, lack of water, and inadequate medical treatment. Prisoners of conscience face harassment and ill treatment.
Given Chau’s age of 71 years, his prison sentence is tantamount to a death sentence. Chau’s wife and children have grave concerns for his wellbeing. His youngest son, Dennis Chau, stated to the ABC in June that the Australian government has done little to advocate for Chau’s release, with no condemnation of the verdict. The family have been stonewalled on any interventions being taken by the government. Dennis Chau spoke about his father’s case at the 2020 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in February.
With no family visits permitted, and no lawyers in Vietnam actively working on his case, there is no way to monitor Chau’s health or to ensure his case remains in the public light.
Help us call for Chau’s immediate and unconditional release so he can be safely reunited with his family in Australia.
You can write to:
His Excellency, Nguyen Phu Trong, Secretary General and State President of Vietnam
Số 2 Hùng Vương,
Ngọc Hồ, Ba Đình,
Hà Nội 118708,
His Excellency, Mr Ngo Huong Nam, Ambassador of Vietnam
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
PO Box 98
Mawson ACT 2607
Download a letter template to Mr Ngo Huong Nam
Ambassador Robyn Mudie, Australia's Ambassador to Vietnam
Australian Embassy, Vietnam
8 Dao Tan Street
Ba Dinh District