Former Vietnamese prisoner chooses exile to escape injustice

Nguyen Bac Truyen was released days before the US president’s visit to Hanoi.
By RFA Vietnamese
Former Vietnamese prisoner chooses exile to escape injustice Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife in Berlin.
Nguyen Bac Truyen

Nguyen Bac Truyen was released from prison on Sept. 8, five years short of his 11 year sentence. 

He flew straight to Germany, from where he told Radio Free Asia this week he wished to “escape an unjust prison sentence and be reunited with my wife.”

Truyen’s release came just two days before Joe Biden visited Hanoi for talks with senior leaders during which the U.S. president said he repeatedly raised the issue of human rights.

Truyen, 55, was arrested along with many key members of the Brotherhood for Democracy in 2017 on charges of ‘activities aimed at overthrowing the government’ under Article 79 of the penal code.

He told RFA Vietnamese his belief in human dignity and universal human rights sustained him during the six years he spent in prison.

“Most prisoners – especially political prisoners – are deprived of the rights of suspects, defendants and detainees. There are also many legal provisions that are not compatible with the standards in international treaties that Vietnam has joined or signed,” he said.

“Therefore, during my time in detention, I made many petitions demanding improvements in the prison regime through amending laws related to detention currently in effect in Vietnam.”

Truyen said he never did anything to try to overthrow the government and is just a simple human rights activist.

“During my trials I did not see the court present evidence to overthrow the Vietnamese government, but only activities to improve human rights and democracy in Vietnam. The result was a wrongful verdict for all those on trial,” he said.

RFA asked him how he felt about being forced into exile while other activists continued the fight for human rights in Vietnam.

“I value freedom. Being released and living somewhere other than my homeland, Vietnam, is something no one wants, but this is an option to escape an unjust prison sentence and allow me to reunite with my wife,” he said.

“Integrating into a second homeland and adapting to new things in life is something I have to do in the near future.”

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.


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