Vu Quang Thuan

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Vu Quang Thuan

Other Names: Vũ Quang Thuận, Võ Phù Đổng

Date of Birth: December 5, 1966

Gender: M

Religion: Christian (Catholic)

Ethnicity: Kinh

Last Known Prison: Ba Sao prison, Nam Ha province

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Human rights
  • Labor rights
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

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

April 2023:

Project 88 has learned that Vu Quang Thuan is said to have tuberculosis. His mother has no pension, and his sister doesn’t have a steady job. The family cannot afford to help him and so is seeking financial assistance.

Details - Background, History of Activism.

Thuan has previously lived in Malaysia, reportedly having fled there in 2009, but he was living in Hanoi at the time of his arrest. He has been targeted for allegedly helping start the pro-democracy Vietnam Progressive Democratic Movement, along with fellow activists who were arrested in 2009.

Together with Nguyen Van Dien, Vu Quang Thuan is a leading member of Phong Trào Dân Tộc Chấn Hưng Nước Việt (“National Movement to Revive Vietnam”), which has as its principle the motto “Democracy, Progress, Humanity, Peace.” After the arrest of a founding member of the Movement, former political prisoner Lê Thăng Long, in Vietnam in a major political crackdown in 2009, Thuận and Điển fled to Malaysia, but they were arrested, deported back to Vietnam, and detained at the Detention Center 34 in Hồ Chí Minh city. Điển was then released, but Thuận was coerced into an internment at a mental hospital in Đồng Nai. After Thuận’s discharge from the hospital (year unknown), Điển and Thuận has been continuing to work together in their advocating efforts.

The duo have been producing and running a YouTube video channel through which Vũ Quang Thuận discusses political issues, advocates for the respect of human rights and democracy. The last video series they uploaded two days ago is entitled “Guide to Lawful Protest,” which could be one of the reasons that triggered their arrests.

Arrested March 2, 2017. Sentenced to 8 years in prison under Art. 88 (1999 Code). Expected Release is March 2, 2025.

March 2, 2017
  • Art. 88 (1999 Code)
January 31, 2018
Dang Dinh Manh
8 years in prison
March 2, 2025

On March 2, 2017, Vietnamese state-owned media announced the arrests of two Hanoi-based dissidents, Mr. Vũ Quang Thuận and Mr. Nguyễn Văn Điển, for “making and distributing video clips with bad content on the Internet.” Official report did not clarify under charges they were arrested.

He was tried on January 31, 2018, by the People's Court of Hanoi together with Nguyen Van Dien and Tran Hoang Phuc. They are were under clause 1 of Art. 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code. Thuan received an eight-year sentence. According to the indictment, Vu Quang Thuan and Nguyen Van Dien were accused of posting 17 video clips on the Internet and possessing materials with anti-socialist state content; Tran Hoang Phuc was accused of helping them in storing the materials and posting 3 of the 17 clips. 

March 2018:

Vu Quang Thuan, Tran Hoang Phuc, and Nguyen Van Dien appealed their January 31, 2018, sentences. 
July 2018:
Thuan and his co-defendants' appeals were denied. Family members were not allowed to attend the appeal trial, and the court still refused to show the videos in question in the indictment; the videos were also blocked at the first trial in January. Defense lawyer Ha Huy Son said of the move: "This left both the convicted men and their lawyers with no way to debate the prosecutors. In other words, the court issued its ruling without considering the evidence, which is a violation of Vietnamese law."

August 2018:

Political prisoners Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan were transferred to new prison facilities. Dien was transferred to Prison no. 5 in Thanh Hoa province from Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1, 400 km from his family, and Thuan was transferred from Hanoi Police Detention Center No. 1 to Ba Sao prison in Ha Nam province. The two and their co-defendant, Tran Hoang Phuc, planned to appeal to the Supreme Court after their sentences were upheld on appeal. 

July 2019:

On June 30, 2019, during a phone call to family, Nguyen Van Dien said he would begin a hunger strike starting July 1, 2019. Before he could tell his family the reason of the hunger strike, the call was abruptly ended. Meanwhile, Vu Quang Thuan also discussed with his family about his wish to hire a lawyer review his case and draft his will before starting a hunger strike to protest against cruelty in prison. Nguyen Van Dien and Vu Quang Thuan were arrested March 2017 and tried together in January 2018. 

December 2018:

On December 4, Nguyen Trung Quan, Vu Quang Thuan’s brother, visited him at Nam Ha Detention Center. Thuan was said to be in good spirits despite suffering from diseases. Quan brought him some medications but detention officials refused to give them to him. The officials said that they required a doctor’s prescription and also do not accept any items sent from outside to prisoners in general. Due to this, families are forced to buy everything at a higher cost through the detention center’s canteen. 

Prior to arrest: Unknown

Authorities claimed a mental health condition as their reason for not bringing Thuan to trial after his 2011 arrest in Malaysia.

July 2018:

Amnesty International condemned the original sentences of Thuan and his co-defendants and called for their dismissal ahead of the appeal trial, with their Senior Director of Global Operations Minar Pimple saying: "These three men have committed no crime; they have merely used social media to express opinions that the authorities do not like – namely by supporting the protection of human rights and social justice in the country." The US Embassy in Vietnam released a statement following the appeal trial expressing disappointment in the outcome. 

Profile last updated: 2023-04-11 19:09:28

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