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Vietnamese authorities have
released Father Nguyen Van Ly, the editor of the dissident publication Tu do
Ngon Iuan, due to poor health after he suffered a stroke in prison. Arrested in
2007 and sentenced to eight years for criticizing the Vietnamese government,
Father Van Ly was one of at least 21 journalists being held for similar
charges, according to the press freedom organization, Reporters Without
Borders. The U.S. welcomes the release of Father Nguyen Van Ly for medical
treatment, and calls for the release of all other journalists, dissidents and
human rights activists being held on such charges.
Freedom of expression, including freedom of press, speech, assembly, movement
and association remained problematic in Vietnam in 2009, according to a
recently released Human Rights report by the U.S. Department of State.Independent human rights organizations or
political opposition movements continued to be outlawed in that country during
"During the year, the government increased its suppression of dissent,
arresting several political activists and convicting others arrested in
2008," the report states. "Several editors and reporters from
prominent newspapers were fired for reporting on official corruption and
outside blogging on political topics, and bloggers were detained and arrested
for criticizing the government."
The report goes on to state that arrested suspects were commonly mistreated by
police, despite the fact that the law prohibits physical abuse.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted freedom of expression as
one of the issues discussed during the visit of Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Gia Khiem in October. As the U.S. and
Vietnam approach the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two
countries, the U.S. hopes to see greater and greater respect for human rights.
"The timeless principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights are a North Star guiding toward the world we want to inhabit," said
Secretary Clinton on the release of the 2009 Human Rights Report. "A just
world where, as President Obama has put it, peace rests on the "inherent
rights and dignity of every individual."