“Norway is very concerned about the re-imprisonment of Father Ly in Vietnam,” said State Secretary Gry Larsen at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs.
The 65-year old Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly was re-imprisoned last week. His eight-year prison sentence from 2007 was suspended for a year in March last year, after his health had seriously deteriorated. Father Ly has spent over 16 years in prison as a result of his active engagement for democracy and human rights in Vietnam.
“We urge the Vietnamese authorities to release Father Ly immediately, and to respect freedom of expression in accordance with Vietnam’s international obligations. No one should be prosecuted and imprisoned for exercising the right to freedom of expression,” said Ms Larsen.
The imprisonment of Father Ly is part of a trend of increasing persecution of human rights defenders. Father Ly is one of many who have been imprisoned in Vietnam for peacefully expressing their opinion. “We also urge the authorities to release all other prisoners of conscience. I am very concerned about the situation for political dissidents in Vietnam,” said Ms Larsen.
Since 2003, Norway and Vietnam have conducted annual human rights dialogues. Through these dialogues, the Vietnamese authorities have become familiar with Norwegian views on the importance of freedom of expression and the crucial role of human rights defenders in society. The next round of dialogue will take place in Oslo in the autumn of 2011.