PEN International protests the re-arrest of editor and Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly on July 25, 2011. Nguyen Van Ly had been on medical leave from an eight-year prison sentence for over a year, and PEN remains seriously concerned for his health. It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Father Nguyen Van Ly in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory, and on humanitarian grounds.

Background Information

The following information is taken from a July 26, 2011 press release by Amnesty International:

Police arrested Father Nguyen Van Ly, aged 64, yesterday in the central diocese of Hue before an ambulance transported him to prison. Authorities claim he was returned to prison for distributing anti-government leaflets during his parole.
He had been serving an eight-year prison term for “conducting propaganda against the state” when a stroke and a brain tumour led to his temporary release in March 2010...

Father Ly had been serving his jail term in Ba Sao prison, near Ha Noi in northern Viet Nam, when he suffered a stroke in November 2009. He did not receive a proper diagnosis or adequate medical treatment and was only transferred to a prison hospital in Ha Noi some two weeks later. Despite being partially paralyzed, he was returned to his prison cell on 11 December 2009.

On 15 March 2010, he was granted a one-year “temporary suspension” of his sentence to seek medical treatment for a brain tumour.

Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest and co-editor of the underground online magazine Tu do Ngôn luan (Free Speech), was arrested on February 19, 2007, and sentenced to eight years in prison on March 30, 2007, for "Conducting propaganda against the State." Nguyen Van Ly is a leading member of the pro-democracy movement "Bloc 8406," and has spent some 17 years in prison since 1977 for his activism in support of freedom of expression and religion, in harsh conditions and often in solitary confinement. In October 2001 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his online publication of an essay on human rights violations in Vietnam, and was a main case of PEN International. He was released under amnesty in February 2005. He is an Honorary Member of Sydney PEN.

The following is a message from Father Nguyen Van Ly sent to a PEN member on July 24, 2011, the day before his re-arrest:

In July 2009, my right arm and my right foot were paralyzed 100%. After 15 months of treatment in Hue, my right arm and my right foot have been restored to about 60%. I can hold a pen and write slowly like a child attending the first class of a primary school. I can limp in and out the room without a walking stick for a short distance (10 to 12 meters). Very slow recovery is observed because of my age (65) and the consequences of many long years in prison. Recently, I have developed an inflamed prostate (hoping it is not a cancer). Please express my gratitude to PEN Writers in Prison Committee, PEN Sydney/WIPC and all PEN members for their multiple action to defend and help me.

Father Nguyen Van Ly

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the re-arrest of Father Nguyen Van Ly, and expressing serious concerns for his health;
  • Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party, and on humanitarian grounds.

Send Your Letter To

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Nguyên Tân Dung
Prime Minister
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Lê Doan Hop
Minister of Culture and Information
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Vietnamese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for Vietnam in your country to forward your appeals. It would also be advantageous to ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after August 31, 2011: ftw [at]