Nguyen Bac Truyen

Current Status: Sentenced

Photo of Nguyen Bac Truyen

Other Names: Nguyễn Bắc Truyển

Date of Birth: August 12, 1968

Gender: M

Religion: Buddhist (Hoa Hao)

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Businessman

Latest Prison: B14 Detention Center, Hanoi

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Land rights
  • Religious freedom

Known Affiliations:

Arrest History

Arrest 1

November 17, 2006
May 10, 2007
3 years 6 months in prison
  • Art. 88
May, 2010

Arrest 2

July 30, 2017
April 5, 2018
11 years in prison
  • Art. 79
July 30, 2028


April 2018:

On April 5, in a one-day trial, six activists were sentenced to a combined 66 years in prison and 17 years of house arrest under Article 79 of the 1999 Criminal Code. Truyen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and three years of house arrest.

Nguyen Bac Truyen runs the Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association; he also provides free legal advice to those affected by land grabs and is an adovcate for human rights and for the release of all political prisoners in Vietnam. 

In 2011, he won Human Rights Watch's Hellman/Hammett Award for his work. 

Second arrest:

Nguyen Bac Truyen was kidnapped and arrested on July 30, 2017. Truyen was arrested along with three other pro-democracy activists associated with the Brotherhood of Democracy and prisoner of conscience Nguyen Van Dai. They were arrested under Article 79 for activities deemed to be subversive.

December 2017:

In December, authorities announced they finished investigations and recommended that Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Truong Minh Duc, and Dai and his colleague Le Thu Ha, be prosecuted.

March 2018:

Authorities announced that Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thu Ha, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Bac Truyen, and Truong Minh Duc will be tried under Article 79 of the 1999 Criminal Code by the People's Court of Hanoi on April 5.

April 2018:

On April 5, in a one-day trial, six activists, whose backgrounds range from defending religious freedom, to environmental rights, to multi-party democracy, were sentenced to a combined 66 years in prison and 17 years of house arrest under Article 79 of the 1999 Criminal Code. All have been known to support political prisoners and their families and advocate for human rights. Nguyen Bac Truyen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and three years of house arrest.

Nguyen Bac Truyen has gastrointestinal and heart conditions.

He has been repeatedly harassed by authorities and was beaten, along with his wife, on several ocassions. 

May 2014:

Several UN Special Rapporteurs released a letter documenting harassment and intimidation against Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife, Bui Thi Kim Phuong, as well as several colleagues. They asked for further information on and resolution of the matter, as well as a guarantee of freedom of expression and religion for them.

November 2014:

UN Special Rapporteurs sent another letter regarding Nguyen Bac Truyen, this time raising concerns about the treatment of religious minorities in Vietnam. Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife had their movement restricted by authorities after meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief in July 2014. In addition, when Truyen was hit and badly injured by a motorbike in August 2017, the perpetrator was believed to be part of the group of agents watching Truyen and his wife. At several other instances, Truyen and his family were restricted to their home and also surveilled by police. 

August 2017:

Front Line Defender’s released an action for Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Bac Truyen, and Truong Minh Duc, who were all arrested in late July 2017, calling for their immediate release.

Amnesty International released an Urgent Action for Nguyen Bac Truyen.

September 2017:

Several UN Rapporteurs released a letter expressing concern about the arrests and detentions of Nguyen Bac Truyen, Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Van Truc, and Le Dinh Duong. They highlighted the issue that these arrests took place during a concerted crackdown on human rights activists and point out that Vietnam has international obligations to protect universal freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. 

April 2018:

Governments, advocacy groups, and individuals alike have condemned the harsh sentences against Ton and his co-defendants. “The Vietnamese government should thank them for their efforts to improve the country instead of arresting and putting them on trial," said Human Rights Watch's Asia Director, Brad Adams, in a statement ahead of the trial. The Spokesperson of the EU External Action division noted in their statement that the rights exercised by the defendants are "guaranteed by the Vietnamese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."  The United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, Harriett Baldwin, agreed that peaceful expression of one's opinions should not be considered a crime. Heather Nauert, US State Department Spokesperson, also supported other governments and organizations in calling for the release of the prisoners and for Vietnam to uphold international obligations. "Individuals have the right to the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, both online and offline," she said in her statement.

Defend the Defenders's archives

Amnesty International Urgent Action, Vietnam: Missing Human Rights Defender At Risk of Torture: Nguyen Bac Truyen, August 22, 2017 (PDF)

Six Vietnamese Activists Sentenced for 'Subversion' in Hanoi Trial, Radio Free Asia, April 5, 2018


Profile last updated: 2018-04-08 16:11:59