Catholic Priest Risks Return to Prison

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Vietnamese human rights activist and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly is at risk of being returned to prison in mid-March despite his fragile health. He suffered from a stroke in prison in November 2009 which left him partially paralyzed, after being held in solitary confinement. He did not receive adequate medical treatment.

Father Ly, now aged 64, was granted a 12-month “temporary suspension” of his eight-year prison sentence on March 15, 2010 so that he could receive medical treatment after also being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Since his release, he has been living under surveillance at a house for retired priests in the diocese of the Archbishop of Hue, in central Viet Nam.

Father Ly was sentenced to prison in 2007 for spreading "propaganda" against the state. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, arrested and convicted for the peaceful dissemination of his views on democracy and human rights.

Father Ly was first jailed for his criticism of government policies on religion in the late 1970s, and has already spent 17 years as a prisoner of conscience, for calling for respect for human rights and
freedom of expression. He is one of the founders of the internet-based pro-democracy movement Bloc 8406, and has helped to set up other political groups, which are banned by the Vietnamese authorities. He also secretly published a dissident journal, To Do Ngon Luan (Freedom and Democracy).

Father Nguyen Van Ly is one of more than 30 dissidents imprisoned in Viet Nam, as part of the authorities’ aim to suppress any criticism of government policies and allegations about human rights violations.