Prime Minister Nguyên Tân Dung
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
2 March 2007
I, as Chair of Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of Norwegian PEN, am seriously concerned about the detention of magazine editor and Catholic priest Father Nguyen Van Ly, who was reportedly arrested on 19 February 2007 for his dissident activities.
Norwegian PEN fears that he may be held solely for peacefully exercising his right to free expression, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory. There are reports that his health has seriously deteriorated since his arrest.
Ly is a leading member of the pro-democracy movement «Bloc 8406». He was previously detained from 1977-1978, and again from 1983-1992 for his activism in support of freedom of expression and religion. According to PEN’s information, Ly was arrested on 19 February 2007 during an «administrative check» at the archdiocesan building where he lives in the city of Hue. Phone lines were cut and the entire building was searched. Six computers, mobile phones and many documents were taken away. Two other editors of Tu do Ngôn luan, Father Chan Tin and Father Phan Van Loi, were reportedly placed under house arrest but are thought to have been subsequently released.
The Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of Father Nguyen Van Ly, and – if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a signatory – we are calling for his immediate and unconditional release;
Confident that you, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,
Elisabet W. Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Embassy in Vietnam
Embassy of Vietnam in Stockholm