Jailed Australian democracy activist has ‘disappeared’ inside Vietnam’s prison system

A 70-year-old Australian democracy activist has “disappeared” inside Vietnam’s prison system: no one from his family or the Australian government has been allowed to see or speak with him for nearly four months. 

Human rights advocates, lawyers and Chau Van Kham’s family said the charges against him are baseless and politically motivated, his single-day multiple-defendant trial was grossly unfair, and his failing health means his 12-year prison sentence is “effectively a death sentence”.

Vietnamese-born Chau was arrested in January 2019 and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on “financing terrorism” charges over his membership of pro-democracy group Viet Tan.

His sister was last able to see him in February, giving him money and critical medications for a series of potentially life-threatening conditions, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, glaucoma, and kidney stones.

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Ben Doherty