Profile

Nguyen Thi Tam

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Nguyen Thi Tam

Other Names: Nguyễn Thị Tâm , Tam Duong Noi

Date of Birth: September 28, 1972

Gender: F

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Farmer

Last Known Prison: Prison No. 5, Thanh Hoa province

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Human rights
  • Land rights

Communities At Risk:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Denial of Adequate Medical Treatment or Supplies
  • Prolonged Incommunicado Detention
  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer

April 2024:

Nguyen Thi Tam has been denied traditional medicine to treat her uterine fibroids, according to RFA. Project88 corroborated this allegation with Tam’s daughter, Nguyen Thi Mai. She reported that a recent phone call with her mother was cut after only five minutes by a female guard named Hoang Thi Anh Hong after Tam started to describe the ill-treatment she was receiving at Thanh Hoa’s Prison No.5. This was the second time guard Anh Hong cut short Tam’s conversation.

March 2023:

Nguyen Thi Tam, who is serving a six-year sentence in Gia Lai province, is in ill health. Her daughter, Nguyen Thi Mai, told Project 88 that a hospital doctor had diagnosed her with uterine fibroids. Due to severe blood loss, Tam was transported to a local emergency room on Feb. 28– unaccompanied by medical staff– where the physician gave her the same diagnosis. However, she was not allowed to remain there for further evaluation or treatment and was sent back to prison the same day.

Tam's daughter tols us that Tam is now struggling to walk and needs help to move around. She’s being kept in the prison’s clinic. Because the water is not clean for drinking, Tam has to buy water, which costs her about VND 500,000 a month.

Details

Immediate Concerns

April 2024:

Nguyen Thi Tam has been denied traditional medicine to treat her uterine fibroids, according to RFA. Project88 corroborated this allegation with Tam’s daughter, Nguyen Thi Mai. She reported that a recent phone call with her mother was cut after only five minutes by a female guard named Hoang Thi Anh Hong after Tam started to describe the ill-treatment she was receiving at Thanh Hoa’s Prison No.5. This was the second time guard Anh Hong cut short Tam’s conversation.

March 2023:

Nguyen Thi Tam, who is serving a six-year sentence in Gia Lai province, is in ill health. Her daughter, Nguyen Thi Mai, told Project 88 that a hospital doctor had diagnosed her with uterine fibroids. Due to severe blood loss, Tam was transported to a local emergency room on Feb. 28– unaccompanied by medical staff– where the physician gave her the same diagnosis. However, she was not allowed to remain there for further evaluation or treatment and was sent back to prison the same day.

Tam's daughter tols us that Tam is now struggling to walk and needs help to move around. She’s being kept in the prison’s clinic. Because the water is not clean for drinking, Tam has to buy water, which costs her about VND 500,000 a month.

Background

Nguyen Thi Tam is a farmer who lived and worked in Duong Noi. Tam and many farmers there were forcefully evicted from their lands in Duong Noi back in the 2010s. 

Profile photo source: Nguyen Thi Tam’s Facebook post. The account was deactivated after her arrest.

History of Activism

Tam, along with Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Tu and Trinh Ba Phuong, has tried to use legal remedies to protect her legitimate rights and interests in Duong Noi. Currently, she is the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the Duong Noi People’s Committee. 

She also shared her opinions on land rights and transparency issues on her Facebook account and did interviews with independent and foreign news outlets. 

She was detained and held from June 11 until November 20, 2008 under suspicion of “disturbing public order,” Article 318 of the Vietnamese Penal Code.

Tam was tried and sentenced in 2014 when she participated in a demonstration against the Duong Noi local authorities’ eviction decision. They accused her of “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties.”

Since 2016, Nguyen Thi Tam has been increasingly active online through social media engagement on Facebook and Youtube, where she raised land rights and broader human rights issues. She has been actively commenting on the Dong Tam incident, posting information and commentary on Youtube. She has also supported strategic litigation, and the timing of her arrest should not go unnoticed, as a few days before, she was meant to appear in court as part of a suit against the Ha Dong government over a land rights issue. This hearing, scheduled to take place on July 7, was postponed because of her arrest.

Sentenced to 6 years in prison and 3 years probation under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is June 24, 2026.

June 24, 2020
  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Hanoi city public security, Hanoi
Duong Noi, Ha Dong (map)
December 15, 2021
The People's Court of Hanoi, Hanoi
  • Pham Le Quyen
  • Le Dinh Viet
  • Le Van Luan
6 years in prison and 3 years probation
June 24, 2026
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
  • UN Special Rapporteurs
  • Article 19
  • US government
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • The European Union
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Details of Imprisonment

Tam was arrested at 5:00 am June 24, 2020, when she was on her way to the local market. According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Security, Tam, as well as Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, and Trinh Ba Tu, were all arrested for making and posting video clips and commentaries criticizing the raid on Dong Tam Commune and advocating for Dong Tam petitioners.

The police did not present an arrest warrant. Reportedly, within 15 minutes after her arrest, the government cut electricity and internet to her block, and around 6:00am, a group of police in plainclothes and uniform went to Tam’s house. There, they read a search warrant to her family and confiscated Tam’s birth certificate and the family registration for her daughter. However, according to her family, the police only listed a camera, laptop, and carton box in the record of items confiscated. They refused to sign the search document because they said the police had not listed everything.

While she has legal representation, her two lawyers have not been allowed to visit her. Her family has also not been allowed to visit her in detention. The family is also not allowed to send food or other personal supplies and are only allowed to send her money to buy supplies inside the detention facility.

February 2021:

Nguyen Thi Tam’s pre-trial detention has been extended for another four months. This means that Tam will continue to be kept incommunicado and will not be allowed to see her lawyer or her family for four more months.

June 2021: 

The Hanoi investigative security agency has concluded its investigation of Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam. It has recommended that they be prosecuted under Clause 2 of Article 117 of the Penal Code, which carries  a penalty of 10 to 20 years.

October 2021:

The trial of Trinh Ba Phuong and co-defendant Nguyen Thi Tam, scheduled for November 3, was postponed at the last minute. The trial of journalist Pham Doan Trang, scheduled for November 4, was also postponed. The reason given for both delays was that some of the prosecutors had to “self-quarantine due to coming into contact with Covid-positive individuals.” The families were not notified of the delay and only learned about it through others.

Trinh Ba Phuong’s wife had originally reported that the first-instance trial would be on November 4, 2021. 

December 2021:

On December 15, land rights activists Trinh Ba Phuong was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus five years probation, and his co-defendant Nguyen Thi Tam was sentenced to six years in prison with three years probation, both for conducting “anti-State propaganda.” At trial, Phuong told the court that he was beaten more than 20 times during interrogation, even kicked in the groin. His testimony was repeatedly cut off by the judge. Phuong’s wife, Thu Do, was outside the courthouse with her two young children when she was taken away “for Covid testing,” leaving her children behind (one is only 15 months old). Tam’s family had to evade secret police who were guarding their home the night before in order to make it to the courthouse. But once there they were rounded up by police, taken to the precinct station and kept there until after the trial had ended. No witnesses appeared at the trials. The examiners who investigated the case were absent. 

August 2022:

On August 17, an appeals court in Hanoi upheld the 10-year sentence for Trinh Ba Phuong and the six-year sentence for Nguyen Thi Tam.  

September 2022:

The family of Nguyen Thi Tam reported that she was sent to Gia Trung Prison, 1,200 km from her home in Hanoi, on September 21. This will make it more difficult and costly for them to visit her. On the same day, Trinh Ba Phuong, another person charged with violating Article 117 in connection with the Dong Tam case, and Tam's co-defendant, was sent to An Diem Prison in Quang Nam Province, 800 km from his home in Hoa Binh Province. 

Physical Health History

Due to a motorcycle injury several years earlier, Tam has ligament pain and regularly receives acupuncture, but is not taking any medication while in detention.

Actions Taken

November 2020:

The UN Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, sent a petition to the Vietnamese government concerning the cases of five people arrested for their reporting on and activistm in the aftermath of the violent police raid in Dong Tam Commune in January 2020: Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu, Pham Doan Trang, and Nguyen Thi Tam. All five were known activists before the Dong Tam raid, particularly in the area of land rights;they are still awaiting trial at the time of this writing. This is Theu’s third arrest. 

The parties wrote of these cases: “We are troubled by the fact that these arrests and the charges brought against them appear to be an attempt to criminalise their efforts to investigate, document and bring public attention to the alleged human rights violations that occurred during the raid.” They expressed concern about the arbitrary arrests and lack of information available to family members and lawyers.They also called on the government to provide more information on the legal basis for the arrests and detentions and the safeguards in place to protect the human rights of activists.

On February 4, 2021, the government of Vietnam finally responded to the UN regarding their concerns over the Dong Tam trial and for political prisoners Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu, Can Thi Theu, Nguyen Thi Tam, and Pham Thi Doan Trang. Not unexpectedly, Vietnam said that “the allegations made in the Joint Communication were not accurate, mostly drawn from unverified sources and did not reflect the nature of these cases.”

Actions taken in the wake of her trial:

Statement by the EU

Press briefing notes from the UN OHCHR

Press release from Article 19

Resources

Nguyễn Thị Tâm, trong nhóm bốn nông dân Dương Nội bị bắt vì lý do gì? SBS, July 9, 2020   

NÓNG: Bộ Công an thông tin việc khởi tố, bắt Trịnh Bá Phương, Nguyễn Thị Tâm, Cấn Thị Thêu và Trịnh Bá Tư, Dân Việt, June 25, 2020  

Đừng ảo giác bởi sự hậu thuẫn, tung hô của những đối tượng rắp tâm chống phá đất nước, Công an Nhân dân, June 29, 2020  

Khởi tố 4 bị can về tội chống phá Nhà nước, VTV, June 26, 2020 

Pre-trial Detention of Human Rights Defender Nguyen Thi Tam Extended for Further Four Months, Defend the Defenders, February 26, 2021

Vietnamese pair jailed for Facebook posts on deadly land dispute clash, Yahoo/AFP, December 15, 2021

Hà Nội: Y án ông Trịnh Bá Phương và bà Nguyễn Thị Tâm trong nước mắt thân nhân, BBC Vietnamese, August 18, 2022

Facebook post on prison transfer, September 2022

Family interview, April 2024

December 15, 2021: trial

December 15, 2021
Duong Noi, Ha Dong (map)

  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
  • UN Special Rapporteurs
  • Article 19
  • US government
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • The European Union
  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Details of Imprisonment

Tam was arrested at 5:00 am June 24, 2020, when she was on her way to the local market. According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Security, Tam, as well as Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, and Trinh Ba Tu, were all arrested for making and posting video clips and commentaries criticizing the raid on Dong Tam Commune and advocating for Dong Tam petitioners.

The police did not present an arrest warrant. Reportedly, within 15 minutes after her arrest, the government cut electricity and internet to her block, and around 6:00am, a group of police in plainclothes and uniform went to Tam’s house. There, they read a search warrant to her family and confiscated Tam’s birth certificate and the family registration for her daughter. However, according to her family, the police only listed a camera, laptop, and carton box in the record of items confiscated. They refused to sign the search document because they said the police had not listed everything.

While she has legal representation, her two lawyers have not been allowed to visit her. Her family has also not been allowed to visit her in detention. The family is also not allowed to send food or other personal supplies and are only allowed to send her money to buy supplies inside the detention facility.

February 2021:

Nguyen Thi Tam’s pre-trial detention has been extended for another four months. This means that Tam will continue to be kept incommunicado and will not be allowed to see her lawyer or her family for four more months.

June 2021: 

The Hanoi investigative security agency has concluded its investigation of Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam. It has recommended that they be prosecuted under Clause 2 of Article 117 of the Penal Code, which carries  a penalty of 10 to 20 years.

October 2021:

The trial of Trinh Ba Phuong and co-defendant Nguyen Thi Tam, scheduled for November 3, was postponed at the last minute. The trial of journalist Pham Doan Trang, scheduled for November 4, was also postponed. The reason given for both delays was that some of the prosecutors had to “self-quarantine due to coming into contact with Covid-positive individuals.” The families were not notified of the delay and only learned about it through others.

Trinh Ba Phuong’s wife had originally reported that the first-instance trial would be on November 4, 2021. 

December 2021:

On December 15, land rights activists Trinh Ba Phuong was sentenced to 10 years in prison plus five years probation, and his co-defendant Nguyen Thi Tam was sentenced to six years in prison with three years probation, both for conducting “anti-State propaganda.” At trial, Phuong told the court that he was beaten more than 20 times during interrogation, even kicked in the groin. His testimony was repeatedly cut off by the judge. Phuong’s wife, Thu Do, was outside the courthouse with her two young children when she was taken away “for Covid testing,” leaving her children behind (one is only 15 months old). Tam’s family had to evade secret police who were guarding their home the night before in order to make it to the courthouse. But once there they were rounded up by police, taken to the precinct station and kept there until after the trial had ended. No witnesses appeared at the trials. The examiners who investigated the case were absent. 

August 2022:

On August 17, an appeals court in Hanoi upheld the 10-year sentence for Trinh Ba Phuong and the six-year sentence for Nguyen Thi Tam.  

September 2022:

The family of Nguyen Thi Tam reported that she was sent to Gia Trung Prison, 1,200 km from her home in Hanoi, on September 21. This will make it more difficult and costly for them to visit her. On the same day, Trinh Ba Phuong, another person charged with violating Article 117 in connection with the Dong Tam case, and Tam's co-defendant, was sent to An Diem Prison in Quang Nam Province, 800 km from his home in Hoa Binh Province. 

Physical Health History

Due to a motorcycle injury several years earlier, Tam has ligament pain and regularly receives acupuncture, but is not taking any medication while in detention.

Actions Taken

November 2020:

The UN Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and on the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, sent a petition to the Vietnamese government concerning the cases of five people arrested for their reporting on and activistm in the aftermath of the violent police raid in Dong Tam Commune in January 2020: Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu, Pham Doan Trang, and Nguyen Thi Tam. All five were known activists before the Dong Tam raid, particularly in the area of land rights;they are still awaiting trial at the time of this writing. This is Theu’s third arrest. 

The parties wrote of these cases: “We are troubled by the fact that these arrests and the charges brought against them appear to be an attempt to criminalise their efforts to investigate, document and bring public attention to the alleged human rights violations that occurred during the raid.” They expressed concern about the arbitrary arrests and lack of information available to family members and lawyers.They also called on the government to provide more information on the legal basis for the arrests and detentions and the safeguards in place to protect the human rights of activists.

On February 4, 2021, the government of Vietnam finally responded to the UN regarding their concerns over the Dong Tam trial and for political prisoners Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu, Can Thi Theu, Nguyen Thi Tam, and Pham Thi Doan Trang. Not unexpectedly, Vietnam said that “the allegations made in the Joint Communication were not accurate, mostly drawn from unverified sources and did not reflect the nature of these cases.”

Actions taken in the wake of her trial:

Statement by the EU

Press briefing notes from the UN OHCHR

Press release from Article 19

Resources

Nguyễn Thị Tâm, trong nhóm bốn nông dân Dương Nội bị bắt vì lý do gì? SBS, July 9, 2020   

NÓNG: Bộ Công an thông tin việc khởi tố, bắt Trịnh Bá Phương, Nguyễn Thị Tâm, Cấn Thị Thêu và Trịnh Bá Tư, Dân Việt, June 25, 2020  

Đừng ảo giác bởi sự hậu thuẫn, tung hô của những đối tượng rắp tâm chống phá đất nước, Công an Nhân dân, June 29, 2020  

Khởi tố 4 bị can về tội chống phá Nhà nước, VTV, June 26, 2020 

Pre-trial Detention of Human Rights Defender Nguyen Thi Tam Extended for Further Four Months, Defend the Defenders, February 26, 2021

Vietnamese pair jailed for Facebook posts on deadly land dispute clash, Yahoo/AFP, December 15, 2021

Hà Nội: Y án ông Trịnh Bá Phương và bà Nguyễn Thị Tâm trong nước mắt thân nhân, BBC Vietnamese, August 18, 2022

Facebook post on prison transfer, September 2022

Family interview, April 2024

Profile last updated: 2024-06-13 20:34:06

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

© 2022 The 88 Project . The 88 Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in the state of Illinois, United States.