(VNRN) – A man known as ‘Prisoner of the Century’ was released March 22 under an unexpected amnesty signed by the President of Vietnam. Nguyen Huu Cau [Nguyễn Hữu Cầu], 69, was taken to his son’s home in a police car and the next day went to the hospital for medical treatment, capping 37 years in prison.
Cau had served in the South Vietnamese army and, when the ended, was jailed in various ‘re-education camps’ until 1980. Freed after five years, Cau never gave in, and went on to criticize the government in his songs, and accused two senior local officials of rape and corruption. Law enforcement never investigated his denunciations.
In 1982, Cau was again arrested and charged with “anti-revolutionary” activities, for which he was sentenced to death. The death sentence was later reduced to life in prison.
www.Vietnamrightnow.com’s partner Vietnam Path Movement met Cau in the hospital and interviewed him in the video below.
During his imprisonment, according to his family, Cau was many times asked by jailers to admit guilt and request clemency, but he has always refused, insisting on his innocence.
During the 37 years in prison, Cau was often held in prolonged solitary confinement without access to the outside world. He is said to be suffering from gastralgia in detention, and lost the sight in one of his eyes.
Cau said of his release after more than one-third century, “To finally touch the flesh of your children, your grandchildren, that feeling I had never experienced in my life. … That feeling was very powerful.”
In the video, Cau also told of an emotional story from prison where, according to prison rule, all Bibles sent in must be burned. But as a Protestant group was sending a Bible to Cau, he saw an officer who “also appeared to carry out the procedure in the presence of a witness, but I knew he had been keeping up until then dozens of unburned Bibles.”
“Among demons, there are still angels few and far between,” Cau concluded.
The total of more than three decades Cau spent in captivity and his determination earned him the moniker ‘Prison of the Century’ by activists in Vietnam and Vietnamese-language media overseas.
In 2012, his 14-year-old grand-daughter Tran Phan Yen Nhi [Trần Phan Yến Nhi] sent an open letter calling on international human rights organizations and the Vietnamese diaspora to help him out of prison and the “cruel, inhuman treatment which has lasted for years.”
Since his release Nguyen Huu Cau has been in the hospital for medical treatment. He will probably be living with his son in his hometown of Rach Gia 250 km west of Ho Chi Minh City.