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Nguyen Trung Ton

HRD & President

Nguyen Trung Ton is a human rights defender and protestant pastor who advocates for democracy and freedom of religion in Vietnam. He is also president of Brotherhood of Democracy, an independent civil society organisation which uses the internet to promote human rights and coordinate the efforts of various pro-democracy actors in the country. In December 2011 Nguyen Trung Ton was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and two years’ probation on charges of ‘anti-state propaganda’ under Article 88 of the Penal Code, a charge which is frequently used to imprison human rights defenders in Vietnam. The co-founder of Brotherhood of Democracy, Nguyen Van Dai, has been in custody on such a charge since December 2015.


Vietnamese authorities treat human rights defenders as “enemies of the State”. In Vietnam, there is no independent, privately-run media – domestic newspapers, television and radio stations are strictly controlled by the state. Internet communication is also strictly controlled and restricted. HRDs working for accountability and democracy receive accusations of being “foreign spies or agents”, “traitors”, or “violators of public order and peace”. HRDS are also subjected to intimidation, threats, interrogation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention. When put on trial, they are very often sentenced to heavy jail terms for their human rights work, and mistreated in prison.

Provisions of the Penal Code related to national security are regularly used to stifle human rights activities. Common charges against human rights defenders include “conducting propaganda,” “spying” and “undermining the unity policy.” Many defenders are victims of arbitrary detention and criminalisation. Most often they are not informed of the reasons for their arrest or why their request of bail is denied. Many have been charged under the allegation that they are planning to overthrow the Communist Party and are sentenced to lengthy jail terms.