Nguyen Van Dien
Current Status: Released - at risk
Other Names: Nguyễn Văn Điển, Điển Ái Quốc
Date of Birth: May 19, 1983
Religion: Christian (Catholic)
Last Known Prison: Prison No. 5, Thanh Hoa province
Areas of Activism:
- Human rights
- Labor rights
Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:
- Solitary Confinement
- Former Political Prisoner
- Harsh Physical and Administrative Conditions
- Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer
Nguyen Van Dien was released from prison, six months early, on Feb. 22. He will be on probation for another four years.
Dien told RFA he suffered extremely harsh treatment in Thanh Hoa Prison No. 5, including being kept in a windowless cell and experiencing long periods of solitary confinement for staging hunger strikes to protest the conditions.
Dien told The 88 Project that he had to sign a confession in 2020 in order to get the early release because “the pressure was too great.” Dien said that his aging parents were struggling without him and that his imprisonment was hard on his family economically. He was also very ill in 2018, and luckily survived, despite receiving limited medical care. He is now on a four-year probation and has to report to an officer regularly. He also had to promise not to violate the terms of his release, such as going outside permitted areas.
On September 24, 2019, Nguyen Thai Van, Nguyen Van Dien's father, told Radio Free Asia that Dien started a hunger strike on September 22, 2019. The reason for Dien’s hunger strike is to protest the maltreatment of the political prisoners. Van also told RFA that each month Dien is only permitted one meeting with his family, for one hour. This is Dien's second hunger strike in 2019; he staged one in July, also protesting prison conditions for political prisoners.
Details - History of Activism.
Together with Vu Quang Thuan, Nguyen Van Dien is a leading member of Phong Trào Dân Tộc Chấn Hưng Nước Việt (“National Movement to Revive Vietnam”), which has as its principle the motto “Democracy, Progress, Humanity, Peace.” After the arrest of a founding member of the Movement, former political prisoner Lê Thăng Long, in Vietnam in a major political crackdown in 2009, Thuận and Điển fled to Malaysia, but they were arrested, deported back to Vietnam, and detained at the Detention Center 34 in Hồ Chí Minh city. Điển was then released, but Thuận was coerced into an internment at a mental hospital in Đồng Nai. After Thuận’s discharge from the hospital (year unknown), Điển and Thuận has been continuing to work together in their advocating efforts.
The duo have been producing and running a YouTube video channel through which Vũ Quang Thuận discusses political issues, advocates for the respect of human rights and democracy. The last video series they uploaded two days ago is entitled “Guide to Lawful Protest,” which could be one of the reasons that triggered their arrests.
The 88 Project's archives
Defender the Defenders's archives
Vietnam arrested two dissidents for "making and distributing video clips with bad content", The 88 Project, March 3, 2017
US Calls on Vietnam to Free Jailed Rights Activists, Other 'Prisoners of Conscience,' Radio Free Asia, July 11, 2018
Arrested March 2, 2017. Sentenced to 6 years 6 months in prison and 4 years probation under Art. 88 (1999 Code). Released February 22, 2023.
- Art. 88 (1999 Code)
On March 2, 2017, Vietnamese state-owned media announced the arrests of two Hanoi-based dissidents, Mr. Vũ Quang Thuận and Mr. Nguyễn Văn Điển, for “making and distributing video clips with bad content on the Internet.” Official report did not clarify under charges they were arrested.
He was tried on January 31, 2018, by the People's Court of Hanoi together with Vu Quang Thuan and Tran Hoang Phuc. They were charged under clause 1 of Art. 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code. Dien was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison. According to the indictment, Vu Quang Thuan and Nguyen Van Dien were accused of posting 17 video clips on the Internet and possessing materials with anti-socialist state content; Tran Hoang Phuc was accused of helping them in storing the materials and posting 3 of the 17 clips.
Political prisoners Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan were transferred to new prison facilities. Dien was transferred to Prison no. 5 in Thanh Hoa province from Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1, 400 km from his family, and Thuan was transferred from Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1 to Ba Sao prison in Ha Nam province. The two and their co-defendant, Tran Hoang Phuc, plan to appeal to the Supreme Court after their sentences were upheld on appeal.
On June 30, 2019, during a phone call to family, Nguyen Van Dien said he would begin a hunger strike starting July 1, 2019. Before he could tell his family the reason of the hunger strike, the call was abruptly ended. Meanwhile, Vu Quang Thuan also discussed with his family about his wish to hire a lawyer review his case and draft his will before he starts a hunger strike to protest against cruelty in prison. Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan were arrested March 2017 and tried together in January 2018.
Vietnamese civil organizations issued an “Urgent appeal against Torture and Maltreatment of Prisoners of Conscience in Vietnam,” urging the Vietnamese government to “immediately order an end to the torture and maltreatment of prisoners in every prison across Vietnam, especially Prison Camp No. 5 and 6 and to “conduct visits to the above-mentioned prison camps for inspection and scrutiny, and punish those who violate the UNCAT.” As of July 2, 2019, twelve civil society organizations and more than 550 individuals had signed the urgent appeal.
Prior to arrest: Unknown
Lawyer Ha Huy Son met with Dien for the first time in Detention center No. 1 in Hanoi and shared that Dien is in good health and spirit.
Nguyen Van Dien is suffering from poor health and insufficient supplies, his lawyer shared on social media after visiting him on May 25. Dien suffers from a stomach bug that has not gone away with the perfunctory treatment by the prison's infirmary. The food in prison is not hygienic. His family can only send food supply once a month, yet they have to buy the food from the cantine of the prison itself to send to Dien, and are not allow to buy more than 400,000VND each time ($20). The family is not allowed to send money directly to Dien, so he lacks basic necessities.
Amnesty International condemned the original sentences of Dien and his co-defendants and called for their dismissal ahead of the appeal trial, with their Senior Director of Global Operations Minar Pimple saying: "These three men have committed no crime; they have merely used social media to express opinions that the authorities do not like – namely by supporting the protection of human rights and social justice in the country." The US Embassy in Vietnam released a statement following the appeal trial expressing disappointment in the outcome.
URGENT APPEAL AGAINST TORTURE AND MALTREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE IN VIETNAM, Defend the Defenders, June 28, 2019
Urgent Actions Needed for Political Prisoners in Month-Long Hunger Strike in Nghe An Province and Elsewhere, The 88 Project, July 11, 2019
Vietnam Political Prisoner Nguyen Van Dien on Second Hunger Strike of 2019, Radio Free Asia, September 27, 2019
Facebook post about release from prison, Feb. 22, 2023
Six years in a windowless cell: Life in Thanh Hoa Prison No. 5, RFA, Feb. 28, 2023
Profile last updated: 2023-03-26 00:48:25