Dang Dinh Bach

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Dang Dinh Bach

Other Names: Đặng Đình Bách

Date of Birth: September 12, 1978

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: NGO worker

Last Known Prison: Prison No. 6, Nghe An province

Areas of Activism:

  • Rule of law
  • Anti-corruption
  • Environment

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

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

"During a recent visit, I noticed large bruises and wounds all over his body [Dang Dinh Bach]. Shortly after my visit, he was struck on the head from behind. I am very worried. "

Vietnam is betraying its ‘Just Energy Transition Partnership’ Tran Phuong Thao, Nikkei Asia; September 26, 2023.

August 2023:

Dang Dinh Bach’s wife, Tran Phuong Thao, is raising alarms that her husband could be in physical danger. Bach told her over the phone that a group of men dressed in prisoner garb entered his cell in an attempt to intimidate him. The phone call was abruptly cut off at that point, so no other details were revealed. Bach has allegedly been helping other prisoners demand their rights, which according to his family is why he has been targeted. Bach said he had resumed eating prison food again. He also asked the community to help him get an international lawyer as quickly as possible.


Earlier in August:

Dang Dinh Bach’s family visited him on Aug. 15. This was the first time his mother saw him since he was moved from Hoa Lo Prison in Hanoi to Prison No. 6 in Nghe An province. Phuong Thao, his wife, told Project 88 that Bach now weighs less than 45 kg. Bach said that since Aug. 8 he had been refusing to eat prison food and only ate what his family sent as a way to protest maltreatment – such as not being allowed to send letters or even poems he had written for his wife.

A half dozen guards closely monitored him and his family during the visit; the family reported that the guards constantly interrupted the conversation and even threatened to cut short the visit whenever Bach mentioned the mistreatment of prisoners. Since the end of July, prison guards have taken away Bach’s reading light, his battery charger, his alarm clock and his cold medicine. Bach said his refusal to eat prison food is to demand fair treatment for all prisoners, not just to get his personal things back.

July 2023:

Dang Dinh Bach has ended his hunger strike. His wife Phuong Thao told Project 88 that “Bach decided to do so because he felt his goal was met, namely that he wanted to see a global solidarity movement formed for justice and for the planet. Bach said that he stopped breathing at one point and that his heart stopped beating. His weight dropped to 43 kilos, but his spirit is strong. After he stopped breathing, he felt a surge of energy and clarity that he had reached the limit of what he could endure and that his mission was accomplished. One thing he shared specifically was that the knowledge that 100 organizations signed on to the campaign was significant to him.” He also specifically asked Thao to share that he felt his message, spirit, and hopes were understood and that he was kept alive by this coalition.

Update late June 2023: Dang Dinh Bach’s wife was able to speak with her husband to tell him that the worldwide campaign “Stand with Bach” was going at full strength and would continue even if he chose to end his hunger strike. However, she reported to Project 88 that Bach said he was still feeling well in both mind and body and would continue the strike. He also asked the international community to consider making June 24 Civil Society Day to put more pressure on the government of Vietnam.

June 2023:

Dang Dinh Bach began his hunger strike on June 9 to press for “the environment, justice, and climate,” according to his wife, Tran Phuong Thao. This is Bach’s fourth hunger strike since his arrest in June 2021, and potentially the most risky. Bach told his family not to send him any food other than hydration and electrolyte replenishment packs for emergency use.

Bach has stated that he has refused all medical checkups, refused to sign any paperwork, and denounced the prison authorities taking videos of him without his permission. He urged his colleagues to continue fighting for victims of the thermoelectric projects at Nghi San 2, Hai Phong, Vinh Tan, and the hydroelectric projects in upstream Mekong which are causing severe damage to the ecosystem in southern Vietnam and threaten the livelihood of 20 million people. Bach also sent a call to the international community regarding the illegal dumping of the outdated herbicide Nicotex in Thanh Hoa, the forced relocation of villagers due to the Son La hydroelectric project, and the planting of rubber trees in the northwest region.

May 2023

URGENT UPDATE: Dang Dinh Bach has told his wife that he will begin his full hunger strike on June 9, instead of June 24. Visit the Stand With Bach campaign site to see how you can take action for Bach.

The 88 Project is calling on President Joe Biden to “condition a planned visit by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong in Washington D.C. as early as July on the unconditional release from prison of climate activists.”



In our new report, Weaponizing the law to prosecute the Vietnam Four, we detail our investigation into the charges of tax evasion against four prominent climate activists, finding those prosecutions to be politically-motivated. The Washington Post Editorial Board highlighted the report and has called for the activists’ release from prison.

Dang Dinh Bach is an environmental advocate sentenced to prison for five years for “tax evasion.” Many suspect that the charge brought against him is politically motivated. Watch our translation of a recent speech in this video, “Dang Dinh Bach in his own words: how I became an environmental advocate,” with English subtitles and also with Vietnamese subtitles.

Also watch our interview with his wife, Tran Phuong Thao, filmed two months after Bach’s trial, to learn more about the family’s story and Bach’s contribution to the environmental movement in Vietnam.

Interview with Dang Dinh Bach’s wife with English subtitles 

Interview with Vietnamese subtitles

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.

Bach lives and works in Hanoi. He is currently the Director of the non-profit Law & Policy of Sustainable Development (LPSD). 

LPSD is a member of the Vietnam Environmental Network (VEN), Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA), and the Vietnam Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Alliance (NCDs-VN).

Bach, 43, is known for his ability to mobilize young people to volunteer for charitable projects such as helping victims of storms and disasters, especially those impacted by global warming and environmental catastrophes. Bach has created many competitions and awards for innovation in the field of sustainable living which attracted the participation of many young Vietnamese. LPSD has also been a strong supporter of the government’s fight against the spread of COVID-19.

According to Bach’s curriculum vitae shared by Bach’s wife, Tran Phuong Thao; Bach is also a member of the World Commission on Environmental Law (IUCN), member of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW.) Moreover, he is the Vietnamese member in Mekong Legal Network which is currently facilitated by Earth Rights International, the US NGO working on protecting human rights and environment at national, regional and international levels.

Profile picture: Dang Dinh Bach. Source:

Bach was not known for his role in political activism.

He was arrested just weeks after his wife gave birth. 

We call on the government of Vietnam to uphold its commitments to its international human rights obligations by immediately ceasing its harassment of environmental defender Dang Dinh Bach’s wife, Tran Phuong Thao, and unconditionally releasing Bach from prison. Read and share our full open letter, here.

In this letter (in Vietnamese and English), Bach's wife, Tran Phuong Thao, provided an update on Bach's conditions in prison and the ongoing harassment of their family, including forcible seizure of their assets and potentially their home.

July 2023:

The UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary Detention and several other human rights experts within the UN made public a Joint Allegation Letter, which Project 88 provided input for, to the government of Vietnam regarding “administrative and judicial harassment of human rights defender Ms. Tran Phuong Thao, who is the wife of imprisoned environmental human rights defender Dang Dinh Bach.”

Arrested June 24, 2021. Sentenced to 5 years in prison under Art. 200 (2015 Code). Expected Release is June 24, 2026.

June 24, 2021
  • Art. 200 (2015 Code)
Hanoi city public security, Hanoi
Ha Noi (map)
January 24, 2022
The People's Court of Hanoi, Hanoi
  • Nguyen Thi Huong
  • Nguyen Van Hung
5 years in prison
June 24, 2026
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
  • International professionals
  • FIDH
  • The 88 Project
  • Vietnamese civil society groups
  • UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Bach’s arrest and charge were announced on July 2, the same day as Mai Phan Loi’s. He was charged under Article 200 for “tax evasion.” 

On June 24, 2021, Bach was detained by the police in Hanoi for questioning, along with the LSPD accountant on vaguely formulated charges of “tax evasion.” There was not any arrest warrant shown at the time of his arrest. The accountant was released after the investigation. According to the court indictment issued on November 29, 2021, both Bach’s house and his workplace were searched and items confiscated.

Both places were examined by police at the same time, at 10 am on June 24, 2021, his wife, Thao said. There was not any search warrant presented. The police and law enforcement did not give any specific reasons for holding Bach other than a generic statement saying that he had violated Article 200 of the 2015 Criminal Code, which was sent to the family one day later, on June 25, 2021.

His wife received the court announcement document on July 5, 2021 by post, three days after its issued date. Thao shared that on July 10, 2021, she was called by a Hanoi Court investigator and handed Bach’s letter from the detention center. In his letter, written on July 8, 2021, Bach insisted that he was innocent. He is a victim, and he was targeted because he was involved in the Son La Hydroelectric plant. He collected complaint documents of the Son La victims and submitted them on their behalf to relevant stakeholders; that might be also another reason he was jailed, his wife said.

It is also argued that allegations against Bach and Loi are a response to their attempts to build up a connection of NGOs under the regulation of EVFTA. These organizations could play an important role in monitoring Vietnam’s obligations under EVFTA. Read our analysis here.

January 2022:

On January 24, Bach was sentenced to five years in prison and no probation. He did not know of his trial date until his lawyers visited him on January 14. His family was not allowed to attend. He was also ordered to pay a fine of VND 1,381,093,134 (~ US$ 60,922).

The family has not been allowed to see him. They said because Bach is a vegan, he has been eating very little while in prison. His lawyer said Bach has gone on a hunger strike since January 10 to protest against his prolonged detention and not being allowed family visits. Bach has also demanded to be released on bail. 

On January 18, 2022, Thao and attorney Huong went to the Hanoi Court to submit a document saying that Bach’s family would pay compensation (on the accusation of tax evasion) before the trial, amounting to VND 500,000,000 (~US$ 22,000). However, they were told that they need to ask for the judge’s signature to be allowed to do so. As of the time of this writing, the family still had not received the approval needed to pay the fine. The family was advised by their attorneys that they should propose again at trial to pay the compensation with the hope that Bach will receive a minor sentence. It is refundable if Bach is proven innocent. 

February 2022:

Bach’s lawyers and the family have still not been allowed to see him since the trial. Also, they have not been informed by the authorities if Bach was transferred to another prison. They have no updates on Bach’s current physical and mental health situation. Bach’s request to appeal his conviction was approved on February 14, 2022 but his lawyers, Nguyen Van Hung and Nguyen Thi Huong, did not receive the court’s notice until February 21. 

August 2022:

Dang Dinh Bach’s wife, Phuong Thao, told The 88 Project she was able to see her husband on August 31 for about 20 minutes, their first meeting since his arrest. Bach said he was being held in a cell with 20 other people, and that he needed some books to read. Their conversation was cut off when Bach tried to tell Thao that he was innocent and needed the international community to help exonerate him. After a warning from the prison police, they were allowed to resume their conversation.

Earlier in the month, a court upheld the five-year sentence against Bach.  Thao said she was not allowed into the courtroom, but caught a glimpse of her husband. She told The 88 Project Bach had been on a 24-day hunger strike to protest the incommunicado detention and that he looked like he’d lost 10 kgs. Bach’s lawyer told Thao that before the trial someone from the court whispered in his ear that he should stop defending Bach because “everyone knows it’s not about tax evasion.” 

Bach's appeal trial was originally scheduled for May 2022 but postponed.

October 2022:

Dang Dinh Bach‘s wife, Tran Phuong Thao, updated The 88 Project on his prison conditions after a recent visit. Read the update here.

November 2022:

Dang Dinh Bach was moved to a new prison without the family’s knowledge. Bach’s wife only found out when she went to visit him at Detention Center 1 in Hanoi, where he had been held since his arrest in June 2021.

January 2023:

On Jan. 18, 2023, an officer from the Department of Civil Judgment Enforcement of Hanoi called Bach's wife, Thao, and told her to pay the alleged tax amount owed of VND 1,381,093,134 ($58,059). He said if the money was not paid, the department would confiscate property belonging to the family. Thao told The 88 Project that she had no intention of paying the money, as Bach continues to maintain his innocence.

March 2023:

Dang Dinh Bach’s wife, Tran Phuong Thao, reported that her family’s housing situation is precarious. She said the local government had been threatening to freeze her bank accounts and force her to sell her house, her car, and other possessions if she refuses to pay the tax they allegedly owe ($58,000 USD) (Bach was accused of tax evasion). Because Bach’s bank accounts have been frozen and his credit cards have been locked since his conviction, Thao cannot access them to take care of financial matters; the utilities company has even threatened to cut off her electricity.

Thao visited Bach on March 17. There were five officials watching Bach on his side, and two watching on her side. Bach had prepared a piece of paper listing everything he wanted to tell Thao, which had been reviewed by officials beforehand:

  1. Truth and love to everyone and everything, rising above all differences based on religion, race, politics etc. and willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good;
  2. The party and the state must reconsider its view of NGOs and civil society as a threat to its power, leading it to prosecute and imprison innocent people, at the same time guarantee sustainable growth that respects individual freedom and rights;
  3. “I will go on a hunger strike to the death. I demand justice and freedom unconditionally.”

Thao said that prison officials have not let Bach receive any of the traditional medicine she sent for his asthma on the grounds that only Western pharmaceutical products are allowed. Bach announced that beginning March 17 he will start a partial hunger strike by refusing breakfast and lunch until June 24. After that date, he will refuse to eat completely to mark what he says are his two years of wrongful imprisonment.

Update: Bach reported that despite his hunger strike, he is nevertheless healthy and stable. In a call home, Bach asked his wife to alert the UN and other international advocacy groups that his case is a political one because he claims there is an official directive from the Central Internal Affairs Committee. Though difficult to corroborate, we will try to get more information about this claim.

April 2023:

Tran Phuong Thao reported that she met with her husband Bach on April 15. Bach has been on a partial hunger strike since March 17 to demand justice. Bach maintained his innocence and said that if nothing was done about his case, he would go on a full hunger strike starting on June 24 to coincide with the two year anniversary of his arrest. He requested that the family not send him any supplies after that point, adding that he would not yield until he achieved his goal. Thao said her husband has already lost more than 10 kg and appeared emaciated.

In a written statement obtained by Project 88, Bach asked that the UN Human Rights Commission and other rights organizations coordinate with the Vietnamese government to have his case investigated by an international judicial body. In particular, Bach requested that Dam Van Khanh, head of the Hanoi Investigative Agency, be prosecuted for violating human rights regulations. Bach also suggested that the government of Vietnam be investigated for having an ulterior political motive for imprisoning him and three other NGO leaders on tax charges.

January 2022:

His family can send him food (which is bought at the detention center) twice per month. Bach is a vegan. The family is concerned that Bach can not maintain his physical and mental health if he follows the vegan diet, due to the poor nutritional value of food in the detention center. As a result, they have sent him non-vegan food. Nevertheless, he has given it all away to his fellow inmates. Bach follows a meager diet of rice, sesame, and salt. The family worries for him because he has lost a lot of weight since his arrest. He was in good health before the arrest, his wife reported. 

February 2023:

Tran Phuong Thao, Bach’s wife, visited Bach in prison on Feb. 16, 2023. Bach told her that his 2022 Lunar New Year was harsh as he lived in a wet prison cell with many rats. He also told Thao he was taken to the emergency room, but when Bach tried to tell Thao why he was taken to the hospital, the prison guards stopped him. “I guess it could be because of his 24-day hunger strike,” Thao said.

March 2022:

Dang Dinh Bach's wife urged Brussels to “take responsibility to intervene in my husband’s release immediately," as Bach was scrutinizing Vietnam’s trade deal with the EU prior to his arrest.

April 2022:

The International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH) published a briefing ahead of the EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue listing Vietnam’s persistent violations of its obligations under the EVFTA. Among the many cases highlighted, of particular concern is that of Dang Dinh Bach, an environmentalist and steering member of VNGO-EVFTA.

August 2022:

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urges international rights groups to oppose the arrest and conviction of environmental NGO leaders using vague “tax evasion” charges. The FIDH “strongly condemns the unfair convictions, ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Dang Dinh Bach, Mai Phan Loi, Bach Hung Duong and Nguy Thi Khanh, as it seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate environmental and human rights activities.”

January 2023:

On his one-year trial anniversary, an international coalition of environmental and human rights organizations called for Dang Dinh Bach’s release from prison with the #StandWithBach campaign. They are “also demanding that G7 nations providing multi-billion dollar funding for Vietnam’s just energy transition support this call since it will be impossible to successfully implement the transition while environmental and climate leaders such as Bach are in jail.”

See what you can do to support Bach, here.

Bach’s wife, Tran Phuong Thao, spoke about the anniversary of his trial in this piece for Fair Planet, “This Lunar New Year, I Want My Husband Home.” Of his critical work on clean energy and environmental protection, Thao wrote, “This work will benefit generations to come, including our son."

February 2023:

Dang Dinh Bach’s case was one of several featured in an opinion article by the Washington Post about a recent wave of arrests of globally-minded, social media savvy political prisoners.

May 2023:

The 88 Project is calling on President Joe Biden to “condition a planned visit by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong in Washington D.C. as early as July on the unconditional release from prison of climate activists.”

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in an opinion largely shaped by a submission from Project 88,  ruled that Dang Dinh Bach’s arrest and detention were arbitrary and details Bach’s prolonged incommunicado detention period and lack of due process at trial.

An international coalition of climate justice and human rights organizations plans to launch a relay hunger strike from May 24 to June 24 to show solidarity with Bach.

Phuong Thao told the BBC that at their last visit she saw that her husband had lost at least 10 kg. She recalled that when the police came to their house to arrest Bach, they also took away his personal belongings, such as a computer, phone etc., without showing any warrant whatsoever.

In another BBC interview, Kate Holcombe of ELAW (Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide) said that Bach’s conviction is not consistent with international law and that Vietnam’s tax laws are too vague. The article also draws from Project 88’s latest report – Weaponization of the Law – to illustrate the highly unusual circumstances around the arrests of “The Vietnam Four.”

The BBC also interviewed Project 88’s Ben Swanton, author of the report “Weaponizing the law to prosecute the Vietnam Four,” analyzing Bach and three others’ convictions for tax evasion, which was released last month (Vietnamese version of the report available here).

Appeal hearing verdict, Vietnamese

Appeal hearing verdict, English

First instance trial verdict, Vietnamese

VN: Ông Mai Phan Lợi bị khởi tố, bắt tạm giam về tội 'trốn thuế', BBC Vietnamese, July 2, 2021 

Một giám đốc Trung tâm nghiên cứu bị bắt về tội trốn thuế, Nguoi Lao Dong, July 3, 2021

Khởi tố đối tượng Đặng Đình Bách về tội trốn thuế, Cong an Nhan dan, July 2, 2021

Khởi tố Giám đốc Trung tâm nghiên cứu pháp luật và chính sách phát triển bền vững, Voice of Vietnam, July 3, 2021

Vietnam arrests CSO leaders and blocks civil society participation in scrutiny of EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, Que Me, July 8, 2021

July Arrests Mark Turn for The Worse, The 88 Project, July 10, 2021

Environmental leader Dang Dinh Bach, accused of “tax evasion,” faces trial, The 88 Project, January 23, 2022

Vietnam: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment against four environmental rights defenders, FIDH, August 17, 2022

Update on Political Prisoner Dang Dinh Bach from his Wife, Tran Phuong Thao: November 2022

#StandWithBach campaign site

This Lunar New Year, I want my husband home, Fair Planet, January 22, 2023

Washington Post Opinion Board article, February 2023

Open letter regarding harassment and reprisals against wife of human rights defender Đặng Đình Bách (Dang Dinh Bach), Project 88, April 10, 2023

Weaponizing the law to prosecute the Vietnam Four, Project 88, April 21, 2023

Vietnamese summary of report and Vietnamese full version of report-- Việt Nam vũ khí hoá Luật Hình sự nhằm truy tố Bộ Tứ

Washington Post Editorial Board article, April 2023

As Dang Dinh Bach’s Hunger Strike Continues, His Family Faces Potential Forced Eviction: Letter from Tran Phuong Thao, Bach’s Wife, The 88 Project, May 16, 2023

Vì sao nhà hoạt động môi trường Đặng Đình Bách nói sẽ 'tuyệt thực đến chết' trong tù?, BBC News, May 16, 2023

Vụ Đặng Đình Bách: 'Luật thuế VN mù mờ khiến nhiều tổ chức, cá nhân gặp họa', BBC News, May 17, 2023

Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, May 2023

Vụ Đặng Đình Bách: LHQ nói 'Việt Nam vi phạm luật pháp quốc tế về giam giữ tùy tiện', BBC Vietnamese, May 24, 2023

As UN experts declare climate activist’s detention unlawful, President Biden should condition planned visit by Vietnam’s Nguyen Phu Trong to Washington D.C. on the release of Dang Dinh Bach, Project 88, May 26, 2023

Vietnam's human rights record is being scrutinized ahead of $15 billion climate deal, NPR News, May 26, 2023 (and accompanying radio segment)

Breaking: Dang Dinh Bach Vows to Begin Hunger Strike to the Death Two Weeks Earlier Than Originally Planned, Project 88, May 30, 2023

Dang Dinh Bach Vows to “Accept the Consequences” as He Begins Full Hunger Strike, Project 88, June 13, 2023

Two Political Prisoners Allege Attack by Knife-Wielding Assailants, Project 88, September 1, 2023

Vietnam is betraying its ‘Just Energy Transition Partnership’ Tran Phuong Thao, Nikkei Asia; September 26, 2023

Profile last updated: 2023-09-28 15:47:00

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