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Imprisoned Pro-democracy Priest Faces Peril in Vietnam

Vietnam Review, Posted: Dec 01, 2009

Imprisoned pro-democracy activist and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly suffered a suspected stroke on Nov. 14 in Vietnam, the Vietnam Review reports. He is conscious but paralyzed on one side. He has been moved to a prison hospital in the Vietnamese capital, Ha Noi. He may be returned to prison, where he would not receive adequate medical treatment for a potentially life-threatening condition.

Father Nguyen Van Ly, 63, has been moved from Ba Sao prison, in Ha Nam province, northern Vietnam, where he has been held in solitary confinement since March 2007, to Prison Hospital 198, administered by the Ministry of Public Security in Ha Noi. Five prison officers are guarding his room, and they only allow family members to see him in order to give him additional care, including by providing him with changes of clothing and food. Sources in Viet Nam say Father Ly is undergoing medical tests. While in prison he has suffered from high blood pressure and other health problems.

He has been ill a number of times in the last six months, including an incident when he fell and hit his head and was unable to stand up, and also had temporary loss of movement on one side of his body. He recovered despite receiving inadequate medical treatment at Ba Sao prison. Father Ly is a Catholic priest and activist for human rights and democracy. In March 2007 he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for conducting propaganda against the state. He was accused of involvement in the internet-based pro-democracy movement Bloc 8406, which he co-founded in April 2006, and taking part in the establishment of banned political groups. He also secretly published a dissident journal, Tu Do Ngon Luan (Freedom and Democracy).

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