Joint Letter from Vietnamese-Australian Community Calls for the Release of Mr. Chau Van Kham

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On June 20, 2020, organizations within the Vietnamese-Australian community signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to put pressure on the Vietnamese government to release Australian citizen Chau Van Kham. The original letter was posted on the “Friends of Chau Van Kham” Facebook page.

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June 20, 2020

Re: Australian Chau Van Kham

Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
We, the undersigned community organisations, are requesting the Australian government to take immediate action to save a 71-year-old Australian citizen, Mr Chau Van Kham. Mr Chau was unjustly sentenced to 12 years imprisonment by the Vietnamese government and is currently being incarcerated, even with his deteriorating health.

Mr Chau is a former Vietnamese refugee who came to Australia in 1982 and became an Australian citizen in 1990. For more than 35 years, he has made a positive contribution to Australia, with his tireless efforts through volunteer work to help senior citizens and disadvantaged groups in the community. He has regularly been at the forefront of many natural disaster fundraisers in Australia. Mr Chau became a member of a human rights organisation, Viet Tan, with the intention to promote the Australian democratic values and rights to the people of Vietnam.

Mr Chau was arrested by the Vietnamese authorities on January 13, 2019 during a fact-finding mission on the human rights situation in Vietnam. He was arrested along with two Vietnamese nationals, Mr Nguyen Van Vien and Mr Tran Van Quyen, who were also accused of being members of Viet Tan. All three were falsely accused by the Vietnamese government with charges of “terrorism to oppose the people’s administration,” simply because they participated or supported Viet Tan in promoting human rights and democracy for Vietnam through peaceful means.

Mr Chau, Mr Nguyen and Mr Tran had their first court appearance on November 11, 2019. After a ‘sham trial’ which lasted only four hours, the victims were convicted by the Vietnamese court with terrorism charges and sentenced from 10 to 12 years in prison, with no evidence presented in court documents to prove these allegations.

Although the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) appointed the Australian Consulate-General in Saigon to attend the court hearing on November 11, 2019 and the Appeal trial on March 2, 2020, we urge the Australian Government to further intensify the effort in intervening and protecting its own citizen against wrongful conviction by the Vietnamese court.
In the spirit of respecting justice and truth, and protecting citizens who are being persecuted by authoritarian regimes like Vietnam, we urgently call on you to intervene for the release of Australian citizen Chau Van Kham so he can soon be reunited with his family in Sydney. This is also a humanitarian gesture for someone who has suffered from many health conditions after more than a year in a Vietnamese prison.

As concerned community organisations all over Australia, we look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Vietnamese Community in Australia
Vietnamese Community in Australia/VIC Chapter
Vietnamese Community in Australia/QLD Chapter
Vietnamese Community in Australia/NSW Chapter
Vietnamese Community in Australia/WA Chapter
Vietnamese Community In Australia/SA Chapter
Vietnamese Veterans Association VIC
Vietnamese Veterans Association WA
Vietnamese Veterans Association SA
Vietnam Navy Veterans Association
Thu Duc Military Cadet Alumni WA
Military Police Association WA
The Republic of Vietnam Air Force Veterans Association in WA
Family of The Vietnamese Red Berets Veterans SA
The Republic of Vietnam Navy Veterans Association SA
Alumni of the Republic of Vietnam National Military Academy SA
The Republic of Vietnam Rangers Veterans Association SA
The Republic of Vietnam Marine Veterans Association SA
Alumni of the Republic of Vietnam Reserve Officers Thu Duc Academy SA
Tuyen Ngon Nam Quoc Inc. Association
Vietnamese Community School WA
Hoa Hao Buddhism Congregation of Australia Inc. WA
Hoa Hao Buddhism Congregation of Australia Inc. QLD
Vietnamese Women’s Association WA
Vietnamese Women’s Association QLD
Vietnamese Senior Citizens Association QLD Inc.
Australian Vovinam Viet Vo Dao SA Chapter Inc.
Lam Son Martial Arts Australia
Vietnamese Public Radio Australia QLD
The Southern Sky Weekly Newspaper QLD
Quan The Am Monastery WA
Phat Da Monastery QLD
The Vietnamese Buddhist Association of Queensland Inc.
Australian Alliance to Combat Human Trafficking
Vietnam Navy Family
Democratic Youth Australia
Democratic Youth Australia QLD
Supportive Freedom and Democracy for VN Committee QLD
Vietnam Sydney Radio NSW
TNT Media
Dr Anh Nguyen WA
Mr Thanh Van Nguyen WA
Mrs Kim Hong Dong WA
Viet Tan Brisbane, QLD
Viet Tan Sydney, NSW
Viet Tan Perth, WA
Viet Tan Melbourne, VIC
Viet Tan Adelaide, SA

The original letter can be found here.

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