Nguyen Bac Truyen
Detained Since: July 30, 2017
Charges: Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration.
Sentence: Eleven years of imprisonment and three years of house arrest.
Biography: Nguyen Bac Truyen is a Hòa Hảo Buddhist and legal expert who has been targeted by the Vietnamese government for his human rights and religious freedom advocacy. He founded the Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association which has assisted prisoners of conscience and their families.
Truyen was detained and arrested on July 30, 2017. Vietnamese authorities accused him of being a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, an organization that seeks democratic reform through peaceful advocacy. After his arrest, he was denied access to legal counsel, visits from family, and deliveries of food and needed medicine. On April 5, 2018, after a one-day trial, he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment and 3 years of house arrest under Article 79 (1999 Code) on charges of “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.” His appeal was denied and he is currently serving the sentence.
This is the second time Truyen has been imprisoned. He was arrested on November 17, 2006, and sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison under Article 88 (1999 Code) on charges of “conducting propaganda” against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He was released in May 2010.
In March 2019, the Vietnamese government barred Nguyen Bac Truyen’s wife, Bui Thi Kim Phuong, from leaving Vietnam to travel to Germany and the United States, where she had planned to conduct advocacy efforts on behalf of her husband. She was also scheduled to meet with U.S. government officials, including members of Congress and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) formally announced her decision to advocate for the freedom of Nguyen Bac Truyen (March 3, 2020).
Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) and U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Commissioner Anurima Bhargava published a joint op-ed in The Hill calling for Nguyen Bac Truyen's release because "his continued detention – with his health deteriorating and with severe, draconian restrictions on visits and on receiving food and medical supplies – stands counter to the fundamental human right of all persons to worship as they choose" (April 24, 2020, The Hill).
Over 60 current and former MPs from 28 countries from ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights and International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religious Belief pen a letter to Vietnam's Prime Minister urging the release of Nguyen Bac Truyen (August 12, 2020, APHR and IPPFoRB).
Ahead of Vice President Harris' visit to Vietnam, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) sent a letter urging the Vice President to push for human rights improvements and the release of prisoner of conscience Nguyen Bac Truyen (August 23, 2021).
Advocate: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Advocacy Partner: USCIRF
Past Advocate: Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA)