Vietnamese Medical Doctor Nguyen Dan Que Released in Prisoner Amnesty
February 2, 2005
The CHR was relieved and gratified to learn from Dr. Nguyen Dan Que’s brother by telephone on Friday, January 28, that the Vietnamese government intended to release Dr. Que in a planned general amnesty for prisoners this week on the occasion of Tet, the Lunar New Year. The Vietnamese government officially announced Dr. Que’s release on Monday, January 31. It is expected that Dr. Que—who was incarcerated in a remote prison more than 1,200 miles from his house in Saigon—will arrive home tomorrow. It was reported by the government that 8,325 prisoners would be released in the amnesty this week, six of whom—like Dr. Que—had been “sentenced for violating national security.” According to international press accounts, the prisoners reportedly were released on condition that they keep a “low profile,” and they will likely be watched closely by the government.
Dr. Que, who is 62 years old and suffers from ill-health, was arrested on March 17, 2003, just four days after writing a communiqué that refuted claims by the Vietnamese government that it respects freedom of information. For more than 16 months, he was held in incommunicado detention, without access even to his family. In July 2004, following a trial that failed to meet international fair trial standards, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for “abusing democratic rights to jeopardize the interests of the State and the legitimate rights and interests of social organizations and citizens.”
Dr. Que’s brother, Dr. Quan Quoc Nguyen—with whom the CHR has been in close contact for many years—believes that international pressure from the scientific community played an important role in gaining his brother’s release. Dr. Que’s case was first adopted by the CHR more than 19 years ago, when he was detained without charge for ten years for criticizing the government’s health care policies. Since his initial arrest in 1978, Dr. Que has endured more than 19 years in jail and five years under house arrest. For detailed background on Dr. Que’s case and some of the many actions that the CHR has taken in his behalf over the years, please click on his case summary.