Nguyen Bac Truyen is the winner of the Stefanus Prize 2020.

Nguyen Bac Truyen is the winner of the Stefanus Prize 2020.  

– Nguyen Bac Truyen has repeatedly endangered his own life and the safety of his family in his fight for the rights of people with a faith other than his own, says Ingvill Thorson Plesner, Chair of the committee that awards the Stefanus Prize.

Great contribution for religious freedom
The Stefanus Prize was established by the Norwegian missions- and human rights organization Stefanus Alliance International. It is awarded to a person or persons who has made a great contribution to the human right of freedom of religion and belief.

2007: First imprisonment
In 2007 Nguyen Bac Truyen was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. After being released in 2010, he continued to fight for political and religious prisoners and their families. In 2014 he became the coordinator of a Catholic aid program for disabled and severely discriminated veterans of the former South Vietnam. He has also helped the victims of land grab.

Assaulted, arrested, imprisoned again
On 30 July 2017 Nguyen Bac Truyen was assaulted and abducted by police while waiting for his wife outside his office in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). He was taken to an undisclosed location. It was only after six months in detention that his wife was allowed to see him. His two lawyers were not allowed to meet him until a few days before the trial.

On 5 April 2018 Nguyen Bac Truyen was sentenced to 11 years in prison and 3 years probation for «carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the government». He was sentenced together with several other democracy and human rights activists.

Hoa Hao Buddhist
Nguyen Bac Truyen (52) is himself a Hoa Hao-Buddhist and has fought for the rights of the Hoa Hao-Buddhists who are not approved by the state and who are therefore harassed and persecuted. He has also stood up for members of the Catholic Church.

– Nguyen Bac Truyen has long fought for the rights of various religious minorities and for a broad spectrum of other human rights. He has paid for this, by the authorities, with harassment and imprisonment. He is a well-deserved prize winner, says Thorson Plesner.

Hungerstrike for catholic prisoner
While in prison, Nguyen Bac Truyen has also led a hunger strike among prisoners to end abuses of a fellow Catholic prisoner who protested torture while in custody.

Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife Bui Thi Kim Phuong after one of the assaults in 2014.


Thankful wife
Nguyen Bac Truyen and his wife Bui Thi Kim Phuong were repeatedly harassed and assaulted by the regime before he was arrested in 2017 and sentenced the following year.

– On behalf of the family and my husband, I would like to sincerely thank you for choosing Nguyen Bac Truyen for the Stefanus Prize, says Bui Thi Kim Phuong.

– It is a great honour for Nguyen Bac Truyen to be recognized with the Stefanus Prixe. I also feel greatly honoured, and I am moved by this wonderful news. Thank you for your dedicated efforts in your work for the release of my husband. The friendly care is a great motivation and a great encouragement for us. We do not feel alone and forgotten and ask for continued support, she adds.

In January 2019, Stefanus Alliance International organized a letter-campaign to encourage Nguyen Bac Truyen in prison. Hundreds of letters were sent. But officials at An Diem prison stopped all the letters. Nguyen Bac Truyen received none of the greetings.

– We are very happy with the decision of the committee to award the Stefanus Prize to Nguyen Bac Truyen. He has experienced how difficult it is both to be a minority and to stand up for the rights for religious minorities in Vietnam. He is a well-deserved winner of the award, says Ed Brown, secretary general of Stefanus Alliance International.

«Inspiration for us all»
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW congratulates Nguyen Bac Truyen on winning the Stefanus Prize, which we hope will draw further international attention to his vital work promoting human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, in Vietnam, at such great personal cost. His courage and commitment to protecting the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in society is an inspiration to us all. It is our hope that the prize will add even more weight to calls by his family and supporters for Truyen’s immediate and unconditional release from prison.”

CSW nominated him for the Stefanus Prize.

«Importane recognition»
- We politicians who fight for Freedom of religion or belief, are completely dependent on people being made aware of important human rights issues in order to get through with political influence. The award of the Stefanus Prize to Nguyen Bac Truyen is an important recognition of his work, and at the same time an important tool for focusing on how Freedom of religion or belief is under pressure, says Kristoffer Robin Haug, parlamentarian for the Green Party in Norway. Earlier this Year he signed an international parlamentarian call to release Nguyen Bac Truyen.

Supported in several countries
Nguyen BNac Truyen is supported among others by Tom Lantos Human Ringst Commission in the US Congress and by USCIRF, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is one of the around 250 prisoners of concience included in The 88Project.

Stefanus Alliance International was among the advocates for religious freedom and human rights that September 28 signed a call for Nguyen Bac Truyens release, through BPSOS and the DVOV-project: Democratic Voice of Vietnam.


More about the Stefanus Prize

• Stefanus Alliance International, established 1967, is a Norwegian mission- and human rights organization with a special focus on Freedom of Religion or Belief. It has from 2012 the name of the first Christian martyr.

• The Stefanus Prize was established by Stefanus Alliance International in 2005.

• The award is given to a person or persons who have made a special contribution to the human right of freedom of religion and belief.

• The winners are selected by an independent committee elected by the board of the Stefanus Alliance International.

• The prize is 10,000 euros and an art diploma.

• It is awarded every second year.

• The first to receive the Stefanus Prize was the Coptic Orthodox Bishop Thomas from Egypt (2005). In 2016, the prize was awarded to the Turkish academics Aykan Erdemir and Mine Yildirim. In 2018, the Stefanus Prize was awarded to Saad Salloum and father Ameer Jaje from Iraq.

Read more here