Pastor A Dao
Detained Since: August 18, 2016.
Charges: "Helping individuals to escape abroad illegally" under Article 275 of the country's Penal Code.
Sentence: Five years in prison.
Biography: Pastor A Dao is a Protestant pastor of the Montagnard Evangelical Church of Christ (MECC) and an advocate for religious freedom who was arrested shortly after attending the conference on Freedom of Religion in Southeast Asia and the ASEAN Civil Society Conference / ASEAN People's Forum in East Timor. At these events, he presented the plight of the MECC and asked the international community for help.
Pastor A Dao took over as the lead pastor of this church after his predecessor, Pastor A Ga, fled to Thailand in 2013 (in July 2019, A Ga met with U.S. President Donald J. Trump during the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom). A Dao has also advocated for religious freedom for his church members in Vietnam's Central Highlands and elsewhere.
A Dao was arrested on August 18, 2016, shortly after his return to Vietnam. On April 28, 2017, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for “helping individuals to escape abroad illegally” under Article 275 of the country’s Penal Code. During interrogation, he was reportedly tortured in order to extract a confession. A Dao denied the charge and claimed his innocence.
Pastor A Dao’s health has deteriorated as a result of the harsh treatment typically reserved for prisoners of conscience. On September 1, 2018, his wife, Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuoi visited him in Gia Trung Prison of Gia Lai Province and observed traces of blood and bruising on his face. She learned that in August 2018, prison guards had been using other inmates to beat him. There have been additional reports that in late 2019, A Dao was tortured in prison.
His expected release date is August 18, 2021.
- In a press release, Rep. Grothman announced that he has adopted Pastor A Dao, a Protestant pastor of the Montagnard Evangelical Church of Christ (MECC) and an advocate for religious freedom (August 18, 2020).
- Rep. Grothman and USCIRF Commissioner James Carr published an op-ed in The Hill calling for the release of religious freedom advocate Pastor A Dao (August 20, 2020, The Hill).
Advocate: Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI)
Advocacy Partner: USCIRF