Chau Van Kham, a 73 year old Australian citizen and Vietnamese pro-democracy activist, has this morning returned to Sydney a free man.
Mr Chau was detained within hours of arriving in Vietnam in 2019 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for being a member of the political party, Viet Tan.
Amnesty International Australia considered Mr Chau a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his peaceful political beliefs.
Mr Chau Van Kham’s lawyer Dan Nguyen says:
“We share the happy news that Mr Chau Van Kham is well and has returned to his family today.”
“On behalf of Mr Chau Van Kham, his wife and two children: we wish to thank the Australian government for their care and support whilst in custody; especially the tremendous efforts by various Departments in securing his return to Australia and to his family today.”
“We thank the many organisations and individuals in Australia and all over the world who have helped to lobby for his freedom.”
Amnesty International Australia campaigner Rose Kulak says:
“Amnesty International Australia joins Mr Chau and his loved ones in celebration and relief at his safe return home to Sydney.”
“For four years, tens of thousands of Amnesty International Australia supporters who were shocked by Mr Chau’s imprisonment have worked together to support Mr Chau and his family and to help call for his release.”
“Today is a momentous day for the movement to free wrongly imprisoned people around the world, and serves as a reminder that Australians in their tens of thousands will take action to defend human rights.”
Mr Chau had been detained by the Vietnamese government since January 2019. He was sentenced to 12 years prison for ‘terrorist activities’ after he met with a friend and fellow pro-democracy activist during a visit to Vietnam.
The only evidence for this charge presented by the Vietnamese authorities during the trial was his membership with Viet Tan, an organisation that the Vietnamese government lists as a “terrorist group”.
Mr Chau’s detention in Vietnam has been a focal point of diplomatic relations between the Australian and Vietnamese governments, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade raising Mr Chau’s case more than a dozen times since his detention, including with Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Amnesty International has worked for Mr Chau since his detention, and have been working alongside Mr Chau’s family over the lyears to secure his release, lobbying the Australian and Vietnamese governments and sending postcards of solidarity to the prison where Mr Chau was detained. In 2020, Mr Chau’s wife and Amnesty International Australia met with Foreign Minister Marise Payne urging the Australian government to secure Mr Chau’s freedom and safe return home. A petition calling for his freedom was signed by more than 36,000 people.