09/01/2009, 00.00
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No pardon for Father Ly on Vietnamese National Day

by Emily Nguyen
The head of the Hanoi government security states that the priest has not made progress in "reeducation". He was sentenced on charges of being behind a movement for democracy and of supporting illegal groups.

Hanoi (AsiaNews / EDA) - Father Nguyen Van Ly, the priest currently held in a "rehabilitation" camp and accused of founding a movement for democracy, will not be pardoned. His name was not among those of  approximately 5,500 prisoners who will be released to mark the upcoming national holiday.

In announcing the news, Eglises d'Asie adds that it was the Secretary for State Security, Lê Thê Tiêm who declared yesterday that the priest will not be among the prisoners to be freed, as he has showed no signs of progress in the process of re-education ( cai tao) to which he is subjected.   Father Van Ly, 62, was sentenced March 30, 2007 to eight years in prison and five of house arrest on charges of founding a movement for democracy, called "Bloc 8406", which started in April 2006, and has 2 thousand members, to support illegal groups such as the Progressive Party of Vietnam.

Announcing that the religious will not be released, the head of security added that " the good health of the prisoner is ensured in the internment camp”.  His statements are contradicted by an August 28 report issued by the 8406 group, that described a visit made to the priest by his sister and niece in Ba Sao, in northern Vietnam on  August 25. His relatives said he arrived limping and described a series of physical ailments he has been suffering since May, certainly due to hypertension: haemorrhages, falls, the beginning of paralysis. The priest also spoke of bad relations with prison guards and the lack of effect of  "re-education" on his spirit or behaviour.

The decision not to release Father Ly, appears to be a deliberately intransigent response to the  international pressure exerted on the government. The latest initiative was the request for the priests release made by 37 U.S. senators to the head of state. In a letter they state that the conditions in which the trial took place (see photo) were not consistent with neither the Vietnamese Constitution nor the International Charter of Civil and Political Rights.

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