Voices of Conscience

Voices of Conscience

These Vietnamese men and women come from a cross section of backgrounds, professions and political views. Often times suffering in silence under the regime’s repressive policies, they are all part of a larger network of activists striving to change the country for the better. They share a common struggle for freedom and democracy. For as true patriots, human rights defenders and courageous, peaceful social activists, they are Vietnam’s Voices of Conscience.

Herein are summaries of individuals in prison for political charges. Many more are currently under house arrest, having recently completed a jail sentence or just summarily quarantined by authorities. This is only a partial list of political prisoners in Vietnam based on publicly available information. Viet Tan strives to regularly update this document.

Every individual profiled has made his or her views publicly known. International support, therefore, is not only desirable, but also the best guarantor for the safety of these brave individuals.

Suggested actions:

1) Raise with the Hanoi government the specific cases of individuals in jail, under house arrest, or otherwise persecuted.

2) Write to these individuals. Even if the letter is intercepted by authorities, at least the jailers will know that the person being persecuted is not anonymous.

3) Visit these individuals. A visit to an activist in jail or under house arrest by a parliamentarian, journalist, or friend would represent an important show of support and opportunity to hear first-hand the status of human rights in Vietnam.

Compiled by Viet Tan - January 2012

PDF - 2.6 Mb
Vietnam’s Voices of Conscience - Janurary 2012 (pdf)



Bui Thi Minh Hang

(Social activist) - Bui Thi Minh Hang was a constant presence at the weekly anti-China protests in Hanoi and Saigon during summer and fall 2011. She was detained by police while demonstrating in support of other peaceful protestors who were recently arrested. Police immediately ordered Hang to two-years of (...) (20/01/2012)


Cao Van Tinh

(Land rights activist) - A resident of Can Tho, Cao Van Tinh has been involved in land rights campaigns since 2001. He participated in the 27-day peaceful sit-in outside government offices in Saigon in 2007. In 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the Hanoi government’s detention and conviction (...) (20/01/2012)


Chu Manh Son

(Social activist) - Chu Manh Son is a young student who was actively involved with the anti-China protests in Hanoi during the summer of 2011. He was arrested as part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights defenders (mostly from Vinh (...) (20/01/2012)


Cu Huy Ha Vu

(Human rights lawyer) - Cu Huy Ha Vu is a prominent government critic and human rights lawyer. He filed unprecedented lawsuits against the government—including suing Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for violating laws on environmental protection, national security and cultural heritage by approving a Chinese-run bauxite (...) (1/01/2011)


Dang Xuan Dieu

(Blogger, social activist, engineer) - Dang Xuan Dieu is an engineer and community organizer, active in mobilizing access to education for poor students and assistance for victims of typhoons and disabled persons. He is a contributing citizen journalist for Vietnam Redemptorist News and is a member of the Congregation of the Most (...) (20/01/2012)


Dau Van Duong

(Social activist, student) - Dau Van Duong is a student, previously active with the anti-China protests in Hanoi during the summer of 2011. He signed a petition for Cu Huy Ha, having attended his April 2011 trial, and against bauxite mining. He was arrested as part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights (...) (20/01/2012)


Do Thi Minh Hanh

(Labor organizer) - Do Thi Minh Hanh has been organizing farmers and workers and reporting on their struggles since she was 18. In February 2010, she was arrested for distributing leaflets at a shoe factory in Tra Vinh province where 10,000 workers eventually went on strike. Her health has reportedly deteriorated (...) (20/01/2012)


Doan Huy Chuong

(Labor organizer) - Doan Huy Chuong (aka Nguyen Tan Hoang) is a founding member of the United Workers-Farmers Organization (UWFO). He was previously imprisoned for 18 months in 2006 for promoting worker rights. He was again arrested in February 2010 for helping to organize a strike by 10,000 workers at the My (...) (30/11/2008)


Duong Kim Khai

(Pastor in the Mennonite Church, land rights activist) - Duong Kim Khai is a leader of the Cattle Shed Congregation, a house church affiliated with the Mennonite Church. A member of Viet Tan, Pastor Khai has been active in helping farmers petition for return of confiscated lands. In 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the (...) (1/01/2011)


Ho Duc Hoa

(Blogger, community organizer) - Ho Duc Hoa is a community organizer and a contributing journalist for Vietnam Redemptorist News. A member of the Vinh Diocese, Hoa is also a member of the John Paul II Group for Pro-Life and is active in mobilizing access to education for poor students and assistance for victims of typhoons and (...) (20/01/2012)


Ho Thi Bich Khuong

(Writer) - Ho Thi Bich Khuong is one of Vietnam’s foremost advocates for farmers victimized by government land grabs. She has written extensively about their plight and published detailed accounts online. She was previously arrested in April 2007 and detained for two years for “abusing democratic freedoms (...) (20/01/2012)


Ho Van Oanh

(Social activist) - Ho Van Oanh is a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and was previously detained in April 2011 while trying to attend the trial of legal scholar Cu Huy Ha Vu. Hoa was most recently detained while visiting a friend in Saigon. His arrest is part of a larger crackdown currently (...) (20/01/2012)


Hoang Phong

(Social activist) - Hoang Phong is a community organizer and member of the John Paul II Group for Pro-Life. He is active in mobilizing against local authorities’ harassment of students of faith and most recently organized candle vigils at the Vinh Diocese. Phong was also arrested in August 2011 but released after (...) (20/01/2012)


Le Cong Dinh

(Attorney) - A renowned commercial lawyer and former Fullbright scholar, Le Cong Dinh successfully represented Vietnamese interests in a landmark trade suit with the United States. He wrote articles on political reform that were published by progressive newspapers in Vietnam. Beginning in 2007, he provided (...) (1/01/2011)


Le Thang Long

(Businessman) - Le Thang Long is a telecommunications engineer and graduate of the Vietnamese Polytechnic University. He founded a mobile phone company called EIS Service Co. that was listed on the stock market in Saigon. In 2007, Le Thang Long filed an application to run as an independent candidate in the (...) (1/01/2011)


Le Van Thanh

(Falun Gong practitioner) - From a farm outside of Hanoi, Le Van Thanh (and his brother-in-law Vu Duc Trung) operated a short-wave radio broadcast called Sound of Hope revealing human rights abuses in China. He was arrested even though Falun Gong is not explicitly banned in (...) (20/01/2012)


Lu Van Bay

(Blogger) - Lu Van Bay is a prolific writer whose articles have been published in leading Vietnamese-language websites based abroad. As a former political prisoner—he was detained for six years in 1977 for “counter-revolutionary activities"—Lu Van Bay wrote under pen names to maintain his personal (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Binh Thanh

(Electrician) - A member of Bloc 8406 and the Vietnam Progression Party, Nguyen Binh Thanh was tried together with Father Nguyen Van Ly, Nguyen Phong, Le Thi Le Hang and Hoang Thi Anh Dao on March 30, 2007 for their peaceful political activities. (18/11/2008)


Nguyen Chi Thanh

(Evangelist in the Mennonite Church, land rights activist) - Nguyen Chi Thanh, a bricklayer by profession, is a land rights activist and evangelist in the Mennonite Church. In 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the Hanoi government’s detention and conviction of Nguyen Chi Thanh and 6 other activists is in violation of (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Dinh Cuong

(Blogger, social activist) - Nguyen Dinh Cuong is an activist with the John Paul II Group for Pro-Life. He also participated in protests against local government seizure of church lands. His detention is part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights defenders (mostly from Vinh (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung

(Labor organizer) - Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung is a member of the pro-democracy Bloc 8406 and an activist for worker and farmer rights. He was arrested after distributing leaflets calling for a strike by 10,000 workers at the My Phong shoe factory in Tra Vinh (...) (1/01/2011)


Nguyen Manh Son

(Blogger) - A former member of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nguyen Manh Son became a dissident in the late 1980s. From 1995 to 2008, he wrote 22 articles and poems calling for political pluralism and the abolition of Article 4 of the Constitution, which gives monopoly power to the VCP. In September (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Ngoc Cuong

(Land rights activist) - Nguyen Ngoc Cuong publicized the plight of dispossessed farmers by passing out leaflets and giving interviews on online forums. At his trial, he was accused of creating a politically-oriented chat room on Paltalk where he "spoke against the people’s government, misrepresented the direction and (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Ngoc Tuong Thi

(Land rights activist) - Nguyen Ngoc Tuong Thi helped publicize the plight of dispossessed farmers. Along with his father Nguyen Ngoc Cuong, Thi was accused of creating a politically-oriented chat room on Paltalk where they "spoke against the people’s government, misrepresented the direction and policies of the party (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Phong

(Democracy activist) - Nguyen Phong is a co-founder and first chairman of the Vietnam Progression Party. He authored two articles to the international community calling for more freedom in Vietnam and denouncing “actions by the Communist Party of Vietnam that are unconstitutional and contrary to the spirit of the (...) (13/11/2008)


Nguyen Thanh Tam

(Farmer, land rights activist) - Nguyen Thanh Tam is a member of Viet Tan. For the last 20 years, he has helped victims of corruption in Ben Tre province petition for government redress. In 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the Hanoi government’s detention and conviction of Nguyen Thanh Tam and 6 (...) (1/01/2011)


Nguyen Tien Trung

(Blogger) - Nguyen Tien Trung studied computer engineering at the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Rennes, France. While abroad, Trung began his political activities and founded the Assembly of the Vietnamese Youth for Democracy. He also joined the Democratic Party of Vietnam. Shortly after his (...) (1/01/2011)


Nguyen Trung Ton

(Pastor in the Full Gospel Church) - Nguyen Trung Ton is a leader of a Pentecostal house church. As a result of his evangelical work and advocacy for dispossessed farmers, Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton has often been harassed and even beaten by security police. (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Van Duyet

(Blogger, social activist) - Nguyen Van Duyet is the President of the Association of Catholic Workers of Vinh in Hanoi. He also attended courses in citizen journalism organized by Vietnam Redemptorist News and regularly writes for the media network, recently covering the trial of legal scholar Cu Huy Ha Vu in April (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Van Hai

(Blogger) - Writing under the pen name Dieu Cay (peasant’s water pipe), Nguyen Van Hai is one of Vietnam’s pioneering citizen journalists. Through his Yahoo360 blog, Dieu Cay exposed government corruption, called for freedom of expression and was among the first Vietnamese to criticize China’s annexation of (...) (16/11/2008)


Nguyen Van Lia

(Hoa Hao Buddhism scholar) - Nguyen Van Lia is a scholar in Hoa Hao Buddhism, a sect which has been repressed by authorities. According to state media, he possessed printed materials and CDs and DVDs criticizing the Vietnamese government’s religious record. He had previously met in Saigon with the US Consulate and the US (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Van Ly

(Catholic priest) - Father Nguyen Van Ly has spent over 15 years in prison for the causes of democracy and human rights. Initially arrested in September 1977 and sentenced to 20 years in a labor camp near Hue, he was later released but prohibited from engaging in religious activities. On March 30, 2007, in a (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Van Oai

(Social activist) - Nguyen Van Oai is a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He attended the citizen journalism training of the Vietnam Redemptorist News (VRNs) and helped report on the anti-China protests in Vietnam during summer 2011. His arrest is part of a larger crackdown currently totaling (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Van Tuc

(Farmer, poet) - Nguyen Van Tuc is known for his writings against social injustice, especially an August 2006 letter denouncing the corruption of communist officials in Thai Binh province and an article titled “The Party, then and now” where he criticizes the current policies of the Vietnamese Communist Party. (...) (30/09/2009)


Nguyen Xuan Anh

(Martial arts instructor, social activist) - Nguyen Xuan Anh is a martial arts instructor from Vinh City and is married with two children. After his arrest, security police raided his home. Nguyen Xuan Anh was arrested as part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights defenders (mostly from Vinh (...) (20/01/2012)


Nguyen Xuan Nghia

(Writer) - Nguyen Xuan Nghia is one of the leaders of Bloc 8406. He was arrested on the night of September 11, 2008 for organizing peaceful protests against China. He had been previously detained in Hanoi while preparing for a peaceful demonstration against the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay on April 29, (...) (7/11/2008)


Nong Hung Anh

(Blogger, Hanoi University student) - Nong Hung Anh is a fourth year student at Hanoi University, where he is currently studying foreign languages. He writes for prominent blogs such as www.boxitvn.net, a widely popular site founded by environmental activists and baokhongle.wordpress.com. Nong Hung Anh was arrested as part of a (...) (20/01/2012)


Paulus Le Son

(Blogger, social activist) - Paulus Le Son is a community organizer and prominent writer for Vietnam Redemptorist News (VRNs). A resident of Hanoi, he is an active community organizer for issues such as HIV, public education, and serves as member of the John Paul II Group for Pro-Life. His popular personal blog (...) (20/01/2012)


Pham Ngoc Hoa

(Merchant, land rights activist) - Pham Ngoc Hoa, a merchant by trade, has been a steady presence at sit-ins organized by aggrieved citizens. She helped voice their plight in interviews with international Vietnamese-language radio networks. In 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the Hanoi government’s (...) (20/01/2012)


Pham Thanh Nghien

(Blogger) - In Spring 2008, Pham Thanh Nghien was briefly detained in Hanoi while peacefully protesting the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay. On June 17, 2008, she wrote an official request to organize a protest which was rejected by the Vietnamese government. Despite harassment by police, Pham Thanh Nghien (...) (4/11/2008)


Pham Van Thong

(Evangelist in the Mennonite Church, land rights activist) - Pham Van Thong is a long-time land rights activist and evangelist in the Mennonite Church. He was arrested for anti-state propaganda for helping to distribute slogans affirming Vietnamese sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands. These charges were changed to subversion at his trial. In (...) (20/01/2012)


Pham Van Troi

(Engineer) - A member of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, Pham Van Troi was subjected to public denunciation in June 2008 by an organized group of 300 Communist Party members and beaten up in the presence of police officers. Despite constant police intimidation, he travelled to meet other (...) (3/11/2008)


Phan Thanh Hai

(Blogger, attorney) - Phan Thanh Hai, a well-known figure in the Vietnamese blogosphere, writes under the pen name AnhBaSG (Saigon Brother Three). He is a member of the unsanctioned Club of Free Journalists of which prominent bloggers Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan are also members. He is a recipient of the (...) (30/01/2011)


Ta Phong Tan

(Blogger) - Ta Phong Tan, a former police officer and communist party member, is a prolific blogger with more than 700 articles to her name. She began her writing career as a freelance journalist in 2004 and since then her articles have appeared widely online. With her knowledge and experience of police (...) (20/01/2012)


Thai Van Dung

(Social activist) - Thai Van Dung is a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. A resident of Hanoi, he attended citizen journalism courses hosted by the Vietnam Redemptorist News. His arrest is part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights defenders (mostly from Vinh (...) (20/01/2012)


Tran Anh Kim

(Retired military officer) - A former army colonel, Tran Anh Kim is a member of the Democratic Party of Vietnam and pro-democracy Bloc 8406. Authorities accused him of working with "reactionary Vietnamese and hostile forces in exile" by publishing articles on the Internet with contents opposing the government. This initial (...) (30/01/2011)


Tran Hoai An

(Religious freedom advocate) - Tran Hoai An is a member of the Hoa Hao Buddhist church, a sect which has been repressed by authorities. According to state media, he was arrested for possessing printed materials and CDs and DVDs criticizing the Vietnamese government’s religious (...) (20/01/2012)


Tran Huu Duc

(Social activist, computer science student) - Tran Huu Duc is a computer science student, previously active in protesting the Nghe An police harassment of students organizing religious activities. He signed a petition for Cu Huy Ha, having attended his April 2011 trial, and against bauxite mining. Tran Huu Duc was arrested as part of a (...) (20/01/2012)


Tran Huynh Duy Thuc

(Blogger, entrepreneur) - Tran Huynh Duy Thuc help found mobile phone company One Internet Connection, which grew rapidly to reach a regional scale in Southeast Asia. Thuc blogged under the pen names Tran Dong Chan and Change We Need. In 2005 he created the "Think Tank Chan" with friends to reflect on the future of (...) (20/01/2012)


Tran Minh Nhat

(Social activist) - Tran Minh Nhat writes for the Vietnam Redemptorist News. He was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Foreign Languages and Information Technology. Nhat’s detention is part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights defenders (mostly from Vinh (...) (20/01/2012)


Tran Thi Thuy

(Land rights activist, merchant) - Tran Thi Thuy is a devoted campaigner for justice, for both herself and other victims of government land grabs in Ben Tre Province. She is a Hoa Hao Buddhist and member of Viet Tan. Her family is often harassed and brutalized by security police and criminal gangs directed by the authorities. In (...) (30/01/2011)


Tran Vu Anh Binh

(Social activist) - Tran Vu Anh Binh is a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and active in the Church choir. His arrest is part of a larger crackdown currently totaling 17 human rights defenders (mostly from Vinh Province). (20/01/2012)


Truong Minh Duc

(Freelance journalist) - A member of the Vietnam Populist Party, Truong Minh Duc was arrested for helping farmers file complaints against local authorities’ seizure of their properties. A dedicated anti-corruption activist, he has authored many articles about abuses of power and civil rights violations, many of which (...) (26/10/2008)


Vi Duc Hoi

(Writer, former Communist Party member) - A Communist Party member from 1980 to 2007, Vi Duc Hoi attended the elite Nguyen Ai Quoc Party School in Hanoi. He is the most senior Communist Party member tuned democracy activist. He has written extensively on the need for political pluralism and documented the failings of the current (...) (23/10/2008)


Vo Minh Tri (Viet Khang)

(Musician) - Vo Minh Tri is a singer/songwriter who goes by the name Viet Khang. He participated in the anti-China protests of 2011. His songs expressing anguish over the loss of national sovereignty struck a chord among Vietnamese netizens and went viral (...) (20/01/2012)


Vu Duc Trung

(Falun Gong practitioner, CEO of a high-tech company) - Vu Duc Trung was CEO of a high-tech company in Hanoi until his arrest. From a farm outside of Hanoi, Vu Duc Trung (and his brother-in-law Le Van Thanh) had broadcast a short-wave news program called Sound of Hope documenting human rights abuses in China. Both were arrested even though Falun (...) (20/01/2012)