Church officials in Vietnam say one of the country's longest serving prisoners of conscience was released under pressure from the United States, but Christians remain concerned about an alleged Communist government-led crackdown on devoted believers, which included killing an evangelical pastor and a Christian convert.
Nguyen Van Ly, a priest who spent much of the last two decades either in jail or under house arrest, was freed last month, three days ahead of the May 22 arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama, church officials said.
"Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly has returned to the mother diocese...after his years and months in (northern) Nam Ha jail," the archdiocese of Hue said in a short statement. In photos released by the Archdiocese, the 80-year-old priest could be seen kneeling — with assistance — before the archbishop upon return to his parish. The archdiocese claimed he was in good health.
Church observers said the human rights activist was punished harshly due to his opposition to the political monopoly of the Communist party and his stand against the government confiscation of church properties. He also set up a pro-democracy movement, campaigning for democracy and freedom of speech.
During long periods of incarceration, sometimes in solitary confinement, he reportedly suffered numerous health problems, including strokes and partial paralysis.
This article continues at [Bos News Life] Vietnam Frees Long-Time Jailed Priest, But Pastor "Killed" By Military