Nguyen Thuy Hanh

Current Status: Pre-trial detention

Photo of Nguyen Thuy Hanh

Other Names: Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh (Liberty)

Date of Birth: May 25, 1963

Gender: F

Religion: Buddhist

Last Known Prison: Central Mental Hospital, Hanoi

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Environment
  • Human rights
  • Land rights
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment or Supplies
  • Prolonged Incommunicado Detention
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer
  • Infliction of Physical and Psychological Pain

March 2023:

Nguyen Thuy Hanh’s health has taken a turn for the worse, according to her husband, Huynh Ngoc Chenh. Chenh told Project 88 that Hanh, who is still being held in a psychiatric treatment facility, has lost her appetite, has not been eating well, and her mental health has declined. Doctors have tried different medications but none seems to help.

Details - Background, History of Activism, Contact Information.

Nguyen Thuy Hanh lives in Hanoi. In 2016, Hanh self-nominated herself in an election of the National Assembly.

Profile photo source: Facebook Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh

Hanh has been an activist since 2011, but it wasn’t until she founded the 50K Fund that the authorities began to follow her movements in earnest. She later opened an account to raise money for the family of slain Dong Tam Commune leader Le Dinh Kinh, at the request of land rights activist Trinh Ba Phuong. The authorities decided to arrest Hanh after they arrested Phuong, his brother Trinh Ba Tu, and their mother Can Thi Theu. Read Hanh’s husband, Huynh Ngoc Chenh’s, letter about her activism here.

Hanh is an active activist, who often participates in demonstrations against China’s claim of Nine-Dash-Lines on the South China Sea. She also joins campaigns calling for environmental protection and honors soldiers of the former South Vietnam who died in battles to protect the maritime sovereignty of Vietnam.

Hanh created “Quy 50k” (or 50k Fund) to collect money from supporters and distribute it to families of prisoners of conscience. All donations have been publicized on her Facebook Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh.

October 2019:

An Ninh ("Security") TV (, a state-owned channel dedicated to security-related news, was airing a series of programs to defame well-known political activists. On October 27, 2019, An Ninh TV aired a program in which it identified several activists as “subversives,” among them: Le Trung Khoa, Le Dung Vova, Nguyen Thuy Hanh, Pham Doan Trang, and Dung Truong. The program also provided ways to recognize those activists on social media. On October 31, 2019, Le Dung Vova and his CHTV channel were publicly-accused of igniting some people to question the government.

December 2019:

Pro-democracy group Viet Tan awarded Nguyen Thuy Hanh the Le Dinh Luong Human Rights Award for her establishment of the 50k Fund, which supports political prisoners and their families through monetary donations. It is unclear if Hanh will be able to accept her award in person in London, as travel restrictions are a common tactic used by the authorities to restrict activism efforts. 

January 19, 2019: harassed after honoring soldiers who died in the Hoang Sa battle in 1974

Physical assault in a public space
January 19, 2019
Public security
Le Thai To King Monument, No 16, Le Thai To Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi (map)

  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of peaceful assembly

On January 19, 2019, Nguyen Thuy Hanh, Truong Van Dung, and Nguyen Van Phuong went to Ly Thai To Statue to honor soldiers of the former South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam) who died in the Hoang Sa battle on January 19, 1974. When they were on the way back from the trip, the public security of Hoan Kiem District blocked them and beat Truong Dung. They only stopped beating him when Hanh shouted loudly. Finally, the police of Thanh Xuan District escorted all of them to Hanh’s house in Hanoi.

July 12, 2019: beaten by thugs when visiting prison No. 6

  • Property confiscation
  • Physical assault in a public space
July 12, 2019
Hanh Lam ward, Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province (map)

  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of peaceful assembly
  • equal protection of the law
  • freedom from discrimination

On July 12, 2019, Nguyen Thuy Hanh and 19 family members and supporters of political prisoners were physically attacked by thugs who they believed to be plain-clothes prison officers and public security officers. Activist Trinh Ba Phuong, son of former political prisoner Can Thi Theu, told VOA Vietnamese that the group was on its way to Prison No. 6 with some posters solely to visit and support prisoners such as Truong Minh Duc, who were on hunger strike at the time. When the visitors group tried to approach Camp 6 by car, a truck seemed to purposely park to block the road, so they decided to walk the rest of the way. This is where the attack took place. Activists Trinh Ba Khiem, Nguyen Thuy Hanh and Huynh Ngoc Chenh were not only physically assaulted, but their belongings, including money, phones, and personal documents were taken by the attackers.

After the attack, the group was forced to go back to the main road and was escorted to Vinh city, unable to complete the visit.

January, 2020: surveiled in the aftermath of the Dong Tam raid

  • Surveillance
  • Travel restriction
January, 2020
Public security
Ha Noi (map)

  • freedom of peaceful assembly
  • freedom of movement

On January 9, 2020, a massive police force stormed into Dong Tam commune and violently assaulted and detained citizens, as well as killed community leader Le Dinh Kinh. The area is home to a longstanding land conflict. In the aftermath of the raid, authorities targeted local activists who reported on the incident and advocated for affected locals. 

Hanh and her husband Huynn Ngoc Chenh have been under surveillance and were also prohibited from leaving their home to attend Le Dinh Kinh’s funeral.

January 20, 2020: detained and questioned about charitable donations for victim of police brutality

  • Police interrogation
  • Detention
January 20, 2020
Public security
Hanoi (map)

  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression

Following the raid in Dong Tam village on January 9, around 700 people in Vietnam have sent “condolence money” to the bank account of activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh so that she could send it to the family of Le Dinh Kinh, a local leader who was killed in the raid. It is a tradition after the death of a loved one to send the family a small amount of money to show support. However, Vietcombank, the largest commercial bank in Vietnam, had frozen Hanh’s account, saying that the authorities ordered them to do so since the money collection was alleged to be in violation of the law on financing terrorism. On January 20, when Hanh was on her way back home after meeting with the representative of Vietcombank, she was detained by the forces of the Ministry of Public Security and temporarily held at the office of the Security Investigating Agency. They interrogated her for several hours about any connection she had to Le Dinh Kinh or those who donated to his family before releasing her at 6:00 pm on the same day. They asked her to sign a document before release, but she refused.

December 2, 2020: summoned and harassed by public security forces

Police summons
December 02-31, 2020
Public security
Hanh’s private home (map)

freedom of expression

On December 2, 2020, the Public security of Ha Noi City sent a summons to Nguyen Thuy Hanh requesting her presence at their office.  The problem was, however, such a letter provided no legal justification or reason for summoning Hanh. They simply told her that the invitation was from the Cyber Security and High-tech Crime Prevention Department under the Ministry of Public Security, even when Hanh pressed for further information. These types of vague and suspicious summons are unlawful under Vietnamese laws. 

It is a classic tactic of the security force to lure the activists to meet them “voluntarily," then deny any responsibility when facing accusations. The local authorities have repeatedly harassed and “invited” Hanh to work with them. It is reported that they asked for her presence again on December 31, 2020.

Arrested April 7, 2021. Charged under Art. 117 (2015 Code).

April 7, 2021
  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Hanoi city public security, Hanoi
Hanoi (map)
Le Van Luan
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of association
  • FIDH
  • Amnesty International
  • Defend the Defenders

On April 7, around 30 public security officers arrested Nguyen Thuy Hanh at her home. She is charged under Article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code for "conducting propaganda against the state." Her arrest came soon after Vietnam's National Party Congress and right before its National Assmebly elections. Hanh self-nominated for the 2016 National Assembly elections but had not announced a run this year. She is a well-known activist, working to raise funds for families of political prisoners and other charitable causes. 

May 2022:

According to Huynh Ngoc Chenh, husband of Nguyen Thuy Hanh, Hanh was transferred from pre-trial detention to the Central Mental Health Hospital in Hanoi after two medical examinations determined she was suffering from severe depression. Chenh said when he went to the detention center on May 6, he was told that Hanh had been admitted near the end of April. They also told him that Hanh was now under the hospital’s jurisdiction, which means she can receive visits and supplies from family members just like other patients. On May 7, Chenh and Hanh’s brother were able to visit her at the hospital. Chenh reported that Hanh looked thinner but was in a good mood. This was the first time Hanh saw any family member since her arrest.

The 88 Project has released an update on her situation, which you can read here.

Before her arrest, we sat down with Hanh to discuss the challenges of organizing and administering the 50K fund.  Pressure from the authorities, and the deep sense of responsibility she feels towards the families of those in prison, has had a significant impact on her mental health. In this interview, Hanh talks to us about her struggle with depression, her relationship with the police, and the joy that the fund brings to her life.

January 2022:

Huynh Ngoc Chenh, husband of Nguyen Thuy Hanh, posted that he finally heard some news about her after nine months. Hanh was taken from her prison cell to a hospital to be examined and monitored for depression, a condition for which she had been taking medication before she was jailed. Chenh’s previous attempts to bring Hanh her medication were always rejected by prison officials. Several patients at the hospital recognized Hanh and were able to talk to her and relayed her messages to Chenh. Hanh was said to have lost some weight but otherwise looks healthy and in good spirits. She was taken back to the detention center.

Profile last updated: 2023-03-15 18:57:20

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