BY Martin Dunlop | February 7 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

FEB-7-FR-NGUYEN-VAN-LY

Vietnamese priest nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Human rights activist Fr Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly shares honour of nomination with Buddhist monk the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do

A Catholic priest from Vietnam has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Fr Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly (above), a 65-year-old Catholic priest and human rights activist has been nominated for the prize by US Members of Congress.

Fr Ly has been a prominent human rights’ defender since the 1970’s, campaigning for religious freedom, democracy and free media reporting. He is a prominent supporter of the Vietnamese democracy movement, Bloc 8406, and his outspoken work has resulted in him spending more than 15 years in prison.

In March 2007, Fr Ly was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for ‘disseminating slanderous and libelous information’ harmful to the state.

One year and four months of temporary medical parole were ended in July 2011, when Vietnamese authorities rearrested Fr Ly.

He is partially paralysed as a result of suffering several strokes, as well as having a brain tumour. In September 2010, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for Father Ly’s immediate and unconditional release, saying that he had been arbitrarily and illegally detained and denied access to legal counsel by the Vietnamese authorities.

Fr Ly has been nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize alongside another Vietnamese church leader, Buddhist monk and human rights activist, the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do.

Thich Quang Do is leader of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV) and was sentenced to five years in prison in 1995 for organising a humanitarian relief mission. He also spent 10 years in exile as a result of his outspoken views on human rights.

Despite suffering government persecution since 1975, leaders of the UBCV remain committed to speaking up for human rights.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) welcomed the nominations, which were made by Congress members Chris Smith and Zoe Lofgren.

“In fighting for freedom and human rights, both men have had their own freedom curtailed and their rights restricted, yet they persevere,” Andrew Johnston, advocacy director at CSW, said.

“We hope that their nomination will focus international attention on the Government’s treatment of religious and political dissidents.

“CSW joins Father Ly and the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do in calling on the Government of Vietnam to protect and promote human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam.”

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in October.

—martin@sconews.co.uk

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