Washington, DC: Freedom Now welcomes the nomination by U.S. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly and the Most Venerable Thich Quang Do of Vietnam for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination letter, attached, recognizes their life-long work to promote human rights in Vietnam.

“Both men have selflessly devoted their lives to the pursuit of peaceful political reform and respect for fundamental freedoms in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has unlawfully persecuted them for decades in response to their work,” said Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner. “We believe this nomination is an important recognition that their legitimate activities should be celebrated instead of punished and we call on the government to release them immediately.”

Father Ly, 66, is a Roman Catholic priest who has worked tirelessly to promote religious freedom and democratic reform in Vietnam. The government most recently arrested Father Ly in 2007 and charged him with disseminating propaganda against the government. In response to grave health concerns, Father Ly was temporarily released on medical parole, but re-detained in 2011 and placed in solitary confinement despite his continued ill health.

The Most Venerable Thich Quang Do, 84, is the leader of the independent Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and a longtime advocate for democracy and freedom of religion. The Vietnamese government has placed him under house arrest without charge as a result of his peaceful activities despite his advanced age and poor health.

Freedom Now represents Father Ly as his international pro bono counsel.