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Stifling Dissent In Vietnam

Catholic Priest Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly sits in his room in 2010. The Vietnamese government has sent Ly back to prison after suspending the high-profile dissident's sentence on medical grounds last year, state media reported.

Vietnamese authorities have re-imprisoned one of the nation's best-known democracy activists, Father Thadaeus Nguyen Van Ly.

Sixteen months after his release from prison due to ailing health, Vietnamese authorities have re-imprisoned one of the nation's best-known democracy activists. A Catholic priest, the Father Thadaeus Nguyen Van Ly has spent over 16 years in prison for advocating and promoting political freedom. The United States has urged the government of Vietnam to show compassion and respect for human rights by releasing Father Ly immediately.

After suffering three strokes and developing a brain tumor, Father Ly was released temporarily from his most recent detention in March 2010 on humanitarian grounds. He was incarcerated in 2007 for publicly disseminating information critical of the government after a dramatic trial in which the police had muzzled him for making anti-communist statements.

Father Ly’s sentence was suspended for one year in March 2010 to allow him to seek medical attention. However, when he continued to press for democratic reforms, he was promptly returned to Nam Ha prison near Hanoi.

We welcomed the government's original decision to grant Father Ly humanitarian release due to the strokes he suffered while held in solitary confinement. Specifically, no individual should be imprisoned for exercising the right to free speech, which Vietnam’s government has pledged to observe by endorsing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Therefore, we urge the immediate release of Father Ly.