Vietnamese writer Doan Viet Hoat released

Wednesday, September 9, 1998
On 28 August 1998, to mark Vietnam's national day on 2 September, the Vietnamese government announced an amnesty for prisoners including writer Doan Viet Hoat. He was recently released from jail in Vietnam and arrived in the United States where he was reunited with his wife and children. On 2 and 9 September 1998, the International PEN Writers in Prison Committee reported that the following writers and journalists were also included in the amnesty: * Dr NGUYEN Dan Que (pen name: Nguyen Chau); * DANG Phuc Tue (religious name:THICH Quang Do); * LE Manh That (known as Ven. Thich Tri Sieu); * PHAM Van Thuong (commonly known as Ven. Thich Tue Sy); and * Nguyen Van Thuan. The following is a statement by Dr. Doan Viet Hoat at Los Angeles Airport on 3 September 1998, forwarded by the Free Vietnam Alliance, Canada: After eight years being in prison, finally I again become a free man. Due to being almost completely isolated from even other prisoners for four years, with no newspapers, no books, I am poorly-informed of what is going on in Vietnam and around the world. Also, my health has been deteriorating dangerously. Therefore, I need to have time both to recover from my poor physical condition and to update my information and knowledge of the actual Vietnamese and international political situation. Consequently, right now I only have the following short statements: First, I would like to send my thankful appreciations to all international human rights organizations, all governments and especially to the Vietnamese communities for their continuous concerns and interventions during my imprisonment. Secondly, I urge the international opinion and the Vietnamse communities to continue their pressure on the Vietnamese communists to release all political prisoners still in jail. Third, international aid to Vietnam can only be functional to the development of the country if it helps to create a free and open intellectual and cultural environment. Without democracy and freedom of thoughts and political activities, international aid would only contribute unvoluntarily to the strengthening of the present totalitarian regime in Vietnam. Fourth, in the past ten years, intellectual and cultural works done by the Vietnamese communities abroad have been infiltrated to Vietnam and have created a great influence to the people, even to many communist cadres. Such works also created an unseen intellectual and cultural front. I urge the Vietnamese communities to continue these works in a higher and more effective level to help strengthen this front and bring it from underground to openly- confronting the present communist leaders. Finally, I myself pledge to continue my struggle for freedom and democracy for Vietnam, and as soon as the situation in Vietnam permits, I shall return to Vietnam to contribute my part to the popular movement for a free, democratic and prosperous Vietnam. Thank you. Dr. DOAN VIET HOAT

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