4 February 2022
Senator the Hon. Marise Payne
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Senate, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
I write regarding Mr Van Kham Chau, who as you know has been imprisoned in Vietnam for 3 years and is now 72 years old. His wife and two sons continue to advocate for his release but have not ben able to speak to him since his imprisonment. I attach for your reference, a letter written by his wife, Mrs Quynh Trang Chau, urging for Mr Chau’s release.
Whilst I appreciate that Mr Chau’s case has always been politically sensitive, and that the Australian Government has provided occasional consular support to him, more must be done to secure his release.
I note that human rights activists such as Nguyen Van Dai and Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Mother Mushroom) have had similar cases in which they have been charged and convicted but subsequently exiled from Vietnam, owing to strong advocacy from host nations. US citizen Michael Nguyen was similarly charged and convicted of a 12 year jail sentence to the same prison as Mr Chau, but was then released owing to the actions of the US State Department. Yet Mr Chau remains in prison as a political example because of his affiliation with the Australian branch of Viet Tan.
Mr Chau’s family are increasingly concerned about his welfare, particularly given his age and ongoing health problems. The ongoing COVID-19 situation in Vietnam has only exacerbated these concerns. The fact that Mr Chau remains imprisoned is disheartening for both Mr Chau’s family and the wider Vietnamese community.
In light of the above and for the sake of Mr Chau and his family, it would be greatly appreciated if you could take an active interest in expediting his release.
Chris Hayes MP
A PDF version of the letter can be viewed here.