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: An Diem prison, Dai Loc district, Quang Nam province

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


July 2018:

Authorities transferred religious freedom activist Nguyen Bac Truyen. Truyen was moved from the B14 detention center in Hanoi to An Diem prison camp in Quang Nam province, over 800 km from his family.

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. He was held in an unknown location for three weeks after his arrest. 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, Nguyen Van Dai, and Le Thu Ha, be prosecuted.

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.

In late April 2018, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi, Truong Minh Duc, and Nguyen Bac Truyen appealed their sentences.

June 2018:

Three Brotherhood for Democracy members – Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc, and Pham Van Troi– as well as religious freedom activist Nguyen Bac Truyen, had their appeals denied on June 4.

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. 

March 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 to Vietnamese authorities, 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. 

October 2016:

The UN Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief sent yet another letter to the Vietnamese authorities asking for more information regarding alleged attacks on religious groups and individuals in the country, including Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife, and why these persons' peaceful, religious expressions were not being protected under international standards. He wrote: 

"I am respectfully appealing to your Excellency’s Government to clarify these
allegations, especially of those incidents that appear to illustrate a pattern of reprisals
against persons who sought to meet and cooperate with foreign diplomatic
representatives. As the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam acceded to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on 24 September 1982, your
Excellency’s Government has the obligation to protect the right to freedom of religion or
belief of all persons in the country, including those who belong to religious minorities or
unrecognized communities as enshrined, inter alia, in Articles 18, 19, 20, 26 and 27 of

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 from prison.

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 Tuc, and Le Dinh Luong. 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 condemned the harsh sentences against Truyen and his co-defendants after their April 5, 2018 trial. “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.

June 2018:

After Truyen's appeal trial, Amnesty International released a statement condemning the decision to uphold his and his co-defendants' sentences, saying that: "These activists have been deliberately silenced by Vietnam’s authorities for bravely speaking out in a country where freedom of expression is under attack."

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

Prisoners of Conscience in Viet Nam, Amnesty International, April 4, 2018


Profile last updated: 2018-07-17 02:41:19