These prisoners of conscience will be adopted by Parliamentarians, who will advocate on their behalf. The aim is to highlight their cases – and those of all who are unjustly imprisoned as a result of their faith or belief, regardless of whatever that faith of belief might be. Through these efforts we will establish a much more focused and continuous advocacy on their behalf.
Nguyen Bac Truyen (Nguyễn Bắc Truyển) is a Hoa Hao Buddhist and legal expert who has provided pro bono legal assistance to families of political prisoners, victims of land grabs, and persecuted religious communities. He was abducted by the Vietnamese police on 30 July 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City and held in incommunicado arbitrary detention in Hanoi until his trial.
In April 2018 he was charged with ‘carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the government’ under Article 79 of the Vietnamese penal code and sentenced to 11 years in prison. During his imprisonment, concerns have been raised for Truyen’s health.
Leah, a teenage Christian girl was one of the 110 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram members from their school in Dapchi, Nigeria. Despite the fact that all of the girls have now been released, Boko Haram refused to let Leah go. According to one of the other girls, Leah declined to renounce her Christian faith. This is the reason Boko Haram continues to enslave her.
Nasser, an Iranian Christian convert, has been in Tehran’s Evin Prison since January 2018, serving a 10-year sentence for his membership of a house-church. He has had three requests for retrials rejected in that time, and was recently denied parole, despite being eligible after serving more than one third of his sentence. He was told the reason for the denial was that he had “not changed his position” – i.e. that he continues to maintain that he is a Christian. Nasser, who was his elderly mother’s primary carer before his incarceration, has not once been allowed out on furlough, despite the Covid pandemic. He celebrated his 60th birthday on 3 August – in prison.
Mubarak Bala is the President of the Nigerian Humanist Association. In April 2020 he was arrested, accused of being ‘provocative and annoying to Muslims’ on Facebook. He is currently being arbitrarily detained in Kano State, a region that allows for the operation of Sharia courts alongside secular courts, where riots and murder are not uncommon for accusations of blasphemy, and where blasphemy carries the death penalty. In October 2020, Bala was finally granted access to his legal team, more than five months after his initial arrest. In December, a judge at the High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, ruled that he should be immediately released on bail after finding that his continuous incarceration without charge violated his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution. However, Kano State officials are ignoring the ruling.