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

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Father Nguyen Van Ly Arrest and Sentence 8 years in prison

As a member of the Bloc 8406 pro-democracy movement, Nguyen Van Ly was sentenced again on March 30, 2007 by Vietnamese provincial court Judge Bui Quoc Hiep for eight years in prison for committing "very serious crimes that harmed national security" by trying to organize a boycott of the upcoming election.

The court appearance was televised in Vietnam, with foreign reporters allowed to attend. During the trial, when Father Ly tried to shout an unauthorized, dissident remark, he was immediately held silent by the security officer behind him.

The arrest has been condemned by leaders including US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which calls this a "negative development".

After Father Ly's arrest, US Congressman Christopher Smith introduced a House Resolution to call on Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release Father Ly and his collaborators. And US Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren wrote a letter to the US Secretary of State to urge the US State Department to re-designate Vietnam on the US Countries of Particular Concern List due to its violations of human rights and religious freedom.

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