Letter of Protest: Denounce All Actions Designed to Threaten, Harass, and Violate the Freedom of Expression Exercised by Bui Chat and Other Vietnamese Artists, Writers and Intellectuals
- The President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The poet Bui Chat, recipient of the 2011 Freedom to Publish Prize from the International Publishers Association (IPA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 25th, 2011, was arrested by the authorities when he returned to Vietnam on the evening of April 30th.
This Letter of Protest hereby denounces the human rights violations committed by the Vietnamese government and demands Bui Chat’s immediate release.
Bui Chat is the author of five poetry collections and co-author of several anthologies. As a core member of the Mở Miệng (Open Mouth) Group and co-founder and executive director of Giấy Vụn (Scrap Paper) Publishing House, Bui Chat has published nearly 30 literary works by nationally banned poets and writers. As a poet, Bui Chat is considered an avant-garde artist who boldly experiments with language, techniques, and aesthetic viewpoints. As a publisher, Bui Chat is praised for his decade-long and persistent struggle to uphold the freedom to publish that has managed to transcend the harsh barriers of state censorship. He is also credited as a significant influence toward the movement of independent publishers in Vietnam today.
To detain a poet like Bui Chat, whose spirit is deeply committed to the advancement of civil society, is both a suppression of freedom of speech and a blatant threat against independent writers, artists, and intellectuals in general. To arrest a poet in the immediate aftermath of his well-deserved honor in the international arena is clearly an act of aggression in the eyes of the world and a violation of basic human rights.
We cannot remain silent in the face of such threat and aggression. Therefore we demand that the Vietnamese government:
1. Immediately release the poet Bui Chat.
2. Cease and desist from all acts of harassment and intimidation against independent writers, artists and intellectuals in Vietnam.
3. Respect freedom to publish and freedom of speech, which are basic constituents of human rights and essential conditions for a civil society, as recognized in the Vietnam Constitution and the Charter of Human Rights.
May 3rd, 2011