The US Committee on Religious Freedom in Vietnam has just released a report on the health condition of Fr. Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, one of Vietnam's most prominent prisoners of conscience who has been imprisoned by Vietnam authority for a total of almost 15 years due to his pro-democracy activities.

Having been known as Fr. Ly by many around the world, the 63 year old Roman Catholic priest from Nguyet Bieu parish, Hue diocese, a prisoner of conscience as recognized by the Amnesty international in 1983, who has been fighting tirelessly for the democracy and rights of the Vietnamese people, is now fighting for his life in the communist prison. “Never before his health and morale are deteriorating rapidly like this" the report said.

Among a dozen of political prisoners who are serving time in Vietnam's prisons for their alleged "conducting propaganda against the state" an offense against article 88 of the Penal Code, Fr. Ly's case happens to be one of the most controversial ones due to the length of his prison total time of almost 15 years and the televised picture of his mouth being muffled during the infamous kangaroo trial in 2007 had played out in the world opinion. Being accused of involving in the Internet-based pro-democracy movement Bloc 8406, which he co-founded in April 2006, and taking part in the establishment of banned political groups as well as publishing a dissident journal called Tu Do Ngon Luan (Freedom and Democracy), at the end said trial he was sentenced to eight years in one of the notorious prison of Ba Sao in Ha Nam province, known for its strictest rules against political prisoners.

Since then Fr. Ly has been cut off connection from the outer world except contacts with his prison guards, and occasional visits from his family. Due to emotional and physical constraint, he suffered from several episodes of stroke and became partial paralyzed on one side of his body. The fact that the prison had neither provided a proper diagnosis nor adequate medical treatment contributed to his paralysis. They also denied his family and Hue diocese's request to release him into the diocesan custody for proper medical treatment.

Despite an international effort of numerous appeals from 37 US senators in July 2009, the Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Oct 2009, and six US Representatives in Nov 2009, Fr. and the other pro-democracy dissidents such as Le Thi Cong Nhan and Nguyen Van Dai did not make the list of the parolees late last year. As a matter of fact, this year marks an unusual increase in number of dissidents being tried and imprisoned for promoting pro-democracy activities before the National Party Congress to be held in early 2011

Currently, Fr. Ly has been refusing to cooperate with medical personnel sent to treat him by the government due to his mistrust of these state professionals, and to protest their decision to unjust imprisonment. During the last visit on Feb 1, his family reported of his emotional outburst and his defiance in which he warned of upcoming hunger strike and protest against the government's cruelty to his extreme medical problems.

The priest, however, remained very supportive of other political dissidents and in communion with other Catholics throughout the country in their fight for justice and religious freedom. "He called for every concerned people to pray for Dong Chiem and other victims of the communist persecution yet forgot to ask people to pray for himself” the report concluded after raising questions about what will be happening to Fr. Ly's fragile health when the cold weather returns this winter.