Lofgren Advocates for the Release of Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Bac Truyen

March 3, 2020
Press Release
‘Adopts’ Mr. Truyen through the Defending Freedoms Project

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), a member of the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam, formally became an advocate for the release of Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Bac Truyen through the Defending Freedoms Project.

“I’m proud to represent San Jose, home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam itself. Mr. Truyen’s sad abuse is all too common a plight. I won’t sit back, so I contacted the Tom Lantos Commission to make it crystal clear that I stand behind Mr. Truyen and strongly urge the Vietnamese government to immediately release the religious-freedom fighter back to his family,” said Rep. Lofgren. “The continued reports that the government in Hanoi does not respect religious freedom are concerning. Americans must assist courageous people, like Mr. Truyen, in their difficult struggle for the basic human rights that we, as Americans, enjoy.”

Mr. Nguyen Bac Truyen is a Hòa Hảo Buddhist and legal expert who was targeted by the Vietnamese government for his human rights and religious freedom advocacy. In July 2017, Mr. Truyen was arrested, along with a group of human rights defenders, on charges of “acting to overthrow the people’s government” under Article 79 of the Vietnamese Penal Code. After his arrest, he was denied access to legal counsel, visits from family, and deliveries of food and needed medicine. In 2018, during a one-day trial, Mr. Truyen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and three-years’ probation, and his appeal was subsequently rejected.

This arrest and lengthy sentence follows years of continual harassment, displacements, and a series of arrests for Mr. Truyen and his family. The mistreatment is a direct result of the family’s advocacy for the rights of those who practice their religion. Prior to his most recent incarceration, Mr. Truyen provided pro-bono legal assistance to families of prisoners of conscience, as well as victims of religious persecutions and land grabs in Southern Vietnam.

International human rights groups have raised concerns about the circumstances surrounding the 2017 arrest and subsequent sentence of Mr. Truyen.

Rep. Harley Rounda (CA-48) is also advocating for the release of Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Bac Truyen through the Defending Freedoms Project.