Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Trial of Vietnamese priest to start next week

Nguyen Van Ly, a Vietnamese priest in the Catholic Church, along with four associates, will go on trial next week on charges involving the dissemination of anti-government material, The International Herald Tribune reported Wednesday. If convicted, the defendants would face up to 20 years in prison for their actions. Ly has long been an outspoken dissident, previously spending 10 years in prison for speaking out against the policies of the government.

Pietro Parolin, the undersecretary of state for the Vatican, brought up Ly’s case when he visited Viet Nam earlier this month. The Vatican and the Vietnamese government are working towards improving their relationship, with the ultimate goal of normalized relations. There are approximately 6 million Catholics in Viet Nam, a country of 84 million citizens.

According to the authorities, Ly, a founding member of the Vietnam Progression Party, was attempting to merge his party with Vietnamese democracy activists in other countries. Ly’s arrest in 2001 came directly after he submitted written testimony to the United States Congress urging them not to ratify a trade treaty with Viet Nam.

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