Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly is a Roman Catholic priest and prominent Vietnamese dissident involved in many pro-democracy movements. Father Ly has already spent around 15 years in prison for peacefully criticizing government policies on religion and advocating for greater respect for human rights since the late 1970’s. For his ongoing imprisonment and continuous non-violent protest, Amnesty International has adopted Nguyen Van Ly in December, 1983 as a Prisoner of conscience. In November, 2000, Nguyen Van Ly gained global and official attention, when members of the Committee for Religious Freedom visited Nguyen Van Ly in his village, during US president Clinton's visit to Vietnam but he was sentenced again in October 2001 to 15 years in prison for activities linked to the defence of free speech. The sentence was later reduced several times and he was finally released in February 2004. Most recently, his support for the Bloc 8406 manifesto has led to his sentence on March 30, 2007 for an additional eight years in prison. Read full biography

Friday, March 30, 2007

Vietnam priest jailed for dissent

A Catholic priest has been jailed for eight years in Vietnam on charges of disseminating information to undermine the state.
Father Nguyen Van Ly is a prominent democracy activist and long-time opponent of Communist Party rule.

The 60-year-old has been under house arrest since early February. His trial lasted one day.
Four co-defendants received prison terms ranging from 18 months suspended to six years.
"The behaviour of the defendants amounts to the crime of spreading propaganda against the Socialist state", Judge Bui Quoc Hiep told the court in the central city of Hue.

Earlier, a policeman had removed Father Ly from the court after he shouted "Down with the Communist Party".

In an unusual move, journalists were allowed limited access to the proceedings.
Political crackdown

Father Ly has already spent 14 of the past 24 years in prison, the BBC's Chris Xia reports.
He was last jailed in 2001 after he urged the US to link its trade policy with Vietnam's human rights record. He was released as part of an amnesty in 2005.

Father Ly is a founding member of Bloc 8406, a pro-democracy movement launched last April. He is also a member of the Progression Party.
Leading members of both groups have been detained in recent months, our reporter adds, in what appears to have been a concerted drive against opponents of the communist government.
An envoy from the Vatican raised the case of Father Ly with the authorities during a visit to Vietnam earlier this month, but the envoy would not say what Vietnam's response was.
State media has accused Father Ly and other pro-democracy activists of trying to undermine the Communist Party by forming illegal parties to field candidates in National Assembly elections in May.

Only the Communist Party is allowed to stand, although a small number of seats are reserved for non-party members

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