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Vietnam Persecution Advocate Suffers Stroke while Imprisoned

ICC Note: Catholic Priest, Advocate for Religious Freedom and Democracy, in Poor Health after he suffers a Stroke in Prison

By Michael Ireland

11/20/09 Vietnam (ANS) — A Catholic priest who has been active in the human rights movement and was sentenced to 8 years in prison and 5 years house arrest, has suffered a stroke and is in poor health, according to Jubilee Campaign USA

Jubilee spokesperson Ann Buwalda says Father Nguyen Van Ly has been in solitary confinement and allowed limited family visits.

In an e-mail to ASSIST News, Buwalda says: “His health continues to deteriorate without sympathy from the authorities.”

Buwalda asks for prayer for Father Ly, a 63-year-old Catholic Priest and human rights advocate who experienced a serious stroke last week. Buwalda also asks for prayer for two Christian lawyers and six other pro-democracy activists who have been jailed in Vietnam.

“The Hmong and Montagnard Christians face continued persecution and desperately need your prayers,” Buwalda says.

According to Buwalda, Father Van Ly was arrested in March 2007 for his religious freedom and pro-democracy work under the guise of “disseminating anti-government propaganda” and was gagged and sentenced to 8 years in prison and 5 years house arrest without a chance to defend himself.

“Father Van Ly suffered a second stroke on November 14, 2009, as he was kneeling to pray, and as a result he is now paralyzed on the right side of his body. He is currently undergoing tests and treatment at a hospital in Hanoi where doctors believe he may have a blockage in his brain,” Buwalda stated.

Buwalda went on to say that Father Ly’s family has been permitted intermittent access to visit him and bring him food and changes of clothes from the five or so guards who surround Father Ly’s room.

Said Buwalda: “Since his arrest, Father Ly has served his time in solitary confinement with limited visits from family. Father Ly is an inspirational symbol among Vietnamese activists and human rights defenders everywhere.”

Buwalda further stated that on July 1, 2009, a bipartisan group of 37 members of the United States Senate, led by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) requested President Nguyễn Minh Triết to release Father Ly, noting “serious flaws in relation to [Father Ly’s] arrest, trial, and imprisonment.”

Buwalda concluded: “Please pray for the release of activists and dissidents in Vietnam, especially for Father Ly. Pray that the campaign taken up by his lawyers will be successful in garnering his release. Pray that we would see justice in this case.”