Tran Van Bang

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Tran Van Bang

Other Names: Trần Văn Bang

Date of Birth: March 1, 1961

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Engineer, Veteran

Last Known Prison: Xuyen Moc prison, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Freedom of expression
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

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

December 2023:

Democracy activist Tran Van Bang’s sister, Tran Thi Biet, visited him and told Project88 on Dec. 7 that Bang has been moved from Bo La Prison (Binh Duong Province) to Xuyen Moc Prison in Ba Ria Province. She added that he’s now staying in a two-person cell, which is much more comfortable than his previous cell. Bang is in stable health and in good spirits, and he told his sister not to worry about him because everything that happens is God’s will.

November 2023:

The Vietnam Human Rights Network has named three winners for their 2023 Human Rights Award. They are political prisoners Tran Van Bang, Y Wo Nie, and Le Trong Hung.

October 2023:

Democracy campaigner Tran Van Bang was transferred to Bo La Prison in Binh Duong province on Sept. 27, his sister, Tran Thi Biet, told Project88. Bang said he now shares a room with 90 other inmates, and the conditions are very harsh. The windows are open all the time, and the cold air at night causes his throat and nose conditions to worsen. The prison only allowed the family to supply him with 1.5 kg of food on their visit on Sept. 29; he had to purchase everything else from the prison store. By their next visit on Oct. 17, Bang had lost 10 kg. He said he shared most of his portions with the other inmates who had no family visits, but the store put a strict limit on how much food one could buy, so he ran out in two days. When he asked to purchase more food, he was refused. The prison also allegedly has not been distributing his medication. Nevertheless, Bang said he would keep helping the other prisoners as best he could and asked his sister to tell their mother that “I will bear my cross until the end.”

August 2023:

As widely expected, the appeal trial for Tran Van Bang on August 29 resulted in no change to his eight-year prison sentence for spreading “anti-state propaganda.”  Bang was accused of making 39 Facebook posts that allegedly discredited the party leadership and of owning four books with “anti-regime content.” State media did not disclose what those books are.

Details - Background, History of Activism.

Tran Van Bang is an engineer and a veteran who joined the 1979 Sino-Vietnam Border War against Chinese expansionism. Bang lives and works in Ho Chi Minh city.

Profile photo source: Facebook of Tran Bang via RFA

Tran Van Bang is a pro-democracy activist and a local dissident who is deeply concerned about Vietnamese social and political issues. He is also a member of the Le Hieu Dang Club, a community organization advocating for democracy and the protection of Vietnam’s sovereignty. Bang attended several anti-China protests in Vietnam. In 2015, he was assaulted by local public security forces at a rally in Ho Chi Minh City protesting China and Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam.

Arrested March 1, 2022. Sentenced to 8 years in prison and 3 years probation under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is March 1, 2030.

March 1, 2022
  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Ho Chi Minh city public security, Ho Chi Minh city
Ward 25, Binh Thanh district (map)
May 12, 2023
The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City
Tran Dinh Dung
8 years in prison and 3 years probation
March 1, 2030
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
Human Rights Watch

Tran Van Bang received a summons dated February 25, 2022 by the Ho Chi Minh city public security, requesting him to be at the Investigating Agency Office (in District 1) on March 1. It is reported that he did not comply with the summons.

On March 1, state media reported that Ho Chi Minh city public security arrested Tran Van Bang at his house. He is accused of “storing, making, and posting online materials that propagandize, distort, and defame the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under article 117 of the 2015 Criminal Code. 

According to state media, Bang’s Facebook posts had “intended to defy the government and negatively affect social security and order.” The authorities also declared that they searched his house and found “a number of books and materials containing anti-state information.” 

Following Bang's arrest, one of his lawyers, Dang Dinh Manh, shared on his Facebook that Tran Van Bang signed a contract with the lawyers before his arrest. On March 5, lawyer Dang Dinh Manh confirmed that the registration to defend his client had been approved within 24 hours. It was unprecedented, as Vietnamese lawyers usually face difficulties in the registering procedures required by law enforcement.  

On March 11, Tran Van Bang was transferred from the District 12 Detention Center to Chi Hoa prison without informing his family. The family only found out about the transfer on March 15 when they visited the detention center in District 12.

December 2022:

Facebooker Tran Van Bang, held in pretrial detention since his arrest in March 2022, told his family that his health had taken a turn for the worse with several symptoms such as yellow fluid in both ears, fluid in both eyes, and a growing lump in one part of his body. Bang said he needed medical attention. He also asked for help drafting a will. His lawyers, Nguyen Van Mieng and Dang Dinh Manh, requested that Bang be immediately taken to a hospital for treatment.

Bang was also allegedly facing extended investigation, according to his lawyer Dang Dinh Manh.

February 2023:

Tran Van Bang was allowed to see his lawyers for the first time since his arrest in March 2022, after the state concluded their investigation into his online activism. Even though his health has reportedly been deteriorating while in detention, he was only allowed to be examined by doctors after his lawyers sent a petition earlier in the month requesting that he receive medical help. It is not clear what the prognosis was.

March 2023:

Tran Van Bang's family reported that he lost 10 kilograms due to untreated health problems, bad food, and alleged poor prison conditions. According to his sister, Tran Thi Biet, Bang has a tumor in his lower stomach the size of about 20 centimeters. Doctors from 30/4 Hospital recommended surgery, but Bang would like to get a biopsy first to be certain whether it’s malignant. He also wants to make a will in case he doesn’t survive the surgery. Bang was very happy that his 91-year-old mother was able to visit him for the first time in over a year. He was reported to be in poor health but in good spirits.

May 2023:

In a trial that lasted less than three hours, Tran Van Bang was sentenced to eight years in prison for Facebook posts that were deemed to be “anti-state propaganda.” According to RFA: “Two diplomats, from the U.S. and France, were barred from attending the proceedings. They were made to wait in the courtyard until the trial’s conclusion. Family members, meanwhile, were allowed only to watch the proceedings on a television screen from another room in the courthouse. Bang’s brother, who declined to be named, told RFA that the audio of the broadcast was cut several times when the defense lawyer was speaking and was turned very low when Bang spoke in his own defense.”

Tran Van Bang’s initial lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, has also been under investigation for potential violations of Article 331, “abusing democratic freedoms,” and withdrew from the case. Bang’s family said they retained a new lawyer, Tran Dinh Dung, on May 8, which left them little time to prepare for the defense.


In an interview with RFA on February 17, 2022, Bang shared that due to his health problems, he had closed his Facebook account since December 26, 2021. He is facing severe eyesight issues and finger myositis.

November 2022:

Tran Van Bang, last known to be held at Chi Hoa prison, was reportedly in failing health and in need of medical treatment. His sister reported that his requests to be examined by a doctor had allegedly been denied several times; prison officials also allegedly said they’d take him to the hospital “if it became an emergency.”

May 2023:

Ahead of his trial, Human Rights Watch urged the Vietnamese authorities to immediately drop all charges against Bang.

Profile last updated: 2023-12-21 17:06:35

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