Vietnam arrested one of its most well known dissidents, Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, on Monday, a year after he was granted medical leave from prison.
The Vietnamese government accused him of distributing anti-government writings, and police escorted him back to jail. He was serving an eight year prison sentence for subversion, but had been released last March to receive treatment for a brain tumour.
Van Ly has spent more than 15 years in prison since 1977, and gained publicity when he tried to read a poem criticizing the communist government during his trial, only to be stopped by police.
He is also a founding member of a pro-democracy group, Bloc 8406, which was launched in 2006.
Report: Vietnam re-arrests ailing dissident priest Van Ly [BBC, 25 Jul 2011]
Canada joined a growing list of countries that have called for the release of Van Ly on Thursday, as Foreign Minister John Baird expressed disappointment at the arrest, and concern for the priest’s health.
“Canada urges the government of Vietnam to permanently release Father Ly and the many other imprisoned for peacefully expressing their opinion,” Baird said.
The United States and a number of international rights groups have also advocated the release of Nguyen Van Ly.
Report: Canada demands release of jailed Vietnam priest [AFP, 28 Jul 2011]
Earlier this week, Vietnam named Truong Tan Sang, a rival of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, as its new president. Mr Sang won with more than 97 per cent of the vote; he has been the ruling Communist Party’s “number two” leader since 2006. Meanwhile, Mr Dung was also elected to another term as prime minister, cementing his place as the most powerful leader in the country.
Report: Vietnam names new president [Straits Times, 25 Jul 2011]
Meanwhile, the country continues to face severe economic woes, with inflation currently at 22 per cent, and the international community harping on the nation’s poor human rights record.
Report & Analysis: Political rivalry may change leadership in one-party Vietnam [VOA, 27 Jul 2011]