Profile

Bui Van Thuan

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Bui Van Thuan

Other Names: Bùi Văn Thuận, Người Mường, Cha Già Dân Tộc

Date of Birth: May 1, 1981

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Muong (Mường)

Occupation: Blogger, Entrepreneur, Teaching professional

Last Known Prison: Thanh Hoa detention center

Areas of Activism:

  • Public health
  • Democracy
  • Sovereignty

Known Affiliations:

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Prolonged Incommunicado Detention

November 2022:

Facebooker Bui Van Thuan was sentenced to eight years in prison plus five years of probation by a court in Thanh Hoa Province for spreading “anti-state propaganda.” A honey seller by trade, Thuan was accused of making online commentaries critical of the Communist Party and how it dealt with the pandemic.

Although the trial was supposed to be public, only Thuan’s wife, Tran Thi Nhung, was allowed into the courtroom as a witness while the rest of his family, who had traveled from their home in Hoa Binh Province to watch the proceedings, had to stand outside the courthouse in the rain and finally returned home on the first day.  In his closing statement, Thuan maintained his innocence and said he would not appeal the verdict because he had no faith in the system.

***

Earlier in the month, Trinh Thi Nhung, Thuan's wife, confirmed to The 88 Project that her husband said the indictments against him were baseless and that throughout the investigation he never admitted to violating any Vietnamese laws. Nhung said that after Thanh Hoa police completed their investigation in late September 2022, her husband was finally allowed to meet with his lawyers Dang Dinh Manh and Le Quyen.

Nhung herself has been harassed by police and was even asked to limit how much she posts on social media about her husband. She has also faced harassment by unknown people at her home and filed two complaints, even submitting video evidence of one of the incidents. The police refused to investigate.

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.

Bui Van Thuan is from the Muong ethnic minority. He used to be a teacher, and now lives in Hoa Binh Province.

Profile photo source: Facebook Thuan Van Bui

Thuan has a Facebook page called “Cha Dà Dân Tộc,” which is a word play on “Cha Già Dân Tộc” (Father of the Nation, i.e. Ho Chi Minh), with over 25,000 followers. On his page, Thuan posts news, jokes, and parodies that criticize the Communist Party and the corruption in government, sometimes using colorful language. More recently, he’s been focusing his criticisms on how the government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thuan joined the Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD) in 2013 through fellow activist Pham Van Troi. Between 2014-2016, he participated in protests against China’s 9-dash line territorial claim. In June 2017, together with Nguyen Vu Binh and Le Anh Hung, Thuan founded a group called Legal Research whose purpose was to design a new “democratic model” for Vietnam. In October 2017, he became a member of the Communication group within BFD, in charge of Facebook and Fan Page administration.

He is married as has a daughter. 

July 27, 2018: laptop and t-shirts with No-U logo confiscated

Property confiscation
July 27-28, 2018
Public security
Bao Hieu Commune, Yen Thuy District, Hoa Binh Province (map)

  • freedom of expression
  • respect of privacy, family, home, and correspondence

On the afternoon of July 26, 2018, Thuan and two others had dinner together and he gave them his two t-shirts with prints protesting against the Nine Dash Lines’s claim of China (No-U logo) and the draft law on Special Economic Zones. His friends put on the t-shirts right away and wore them into the next day.

On July 27, a man live-streamed them singing and wearing the t-shirts with the No-U logo. Public security suddenly came to Thuan’s friend’s house at 4:00 pm and searched it without any legal documents.

They confiscated Thuan’s laptop, as well as t-shirts with that logo. Thuan was detained at the public security post for questioning on the origin of those t-shirts and released at noon on July 28.

However, police did not return his laptop. After many failed attempts to log in, his laptop automatically locked and was unable to start.

Arrested August 30, 2021. Sentenced to 8 years in prison and 5 years probation under Art. 117 (2015 Code). Expected Release is August 30, 2029.

August 30, 2021
  • Art. 117 (2015 Code)
Thanh Hoa province public security, Thanh Hoa province
His private residence in Nghi Son (map)
November 18, 2022
The People’s Court of Thanh Hoa Province
  • Pham Le Quyen
  • Dang Dinh Manh
8 years in prison and 5 years probation
August 30, 2029
  • freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention
  • liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of expression
  • fair trial
  • respect of privacy, family, home, and correspondence
Human Rights Watch

About one hundred uniformed and non-uniformed police officers surrounded Thuan’s house around 8 a.m. on August 30. Dozens of vehicles were present, according to neighbors. Three men in medical protective clothing told his wife they needed to enter to do COVID testing. Once inside, they pretended to ask to use the bathroom then entered Thuan’s bedroom and handcuffed him as he was getting up. It was only then that they read the arrest warrant. They confiscated six computers, three iPads, three mobile phones, and one jar of honey.

March 2022:

Trinh Nhung, Thuan’s wife, received a summons from the Thanh Hoa Police Department in order to discuss details related to the case of Bui Van Thuan, who allegedly stored documents and “items that oppose the state” on his computer.

July 2022:

Thanh Hoa provincial police reportedly soon would finish up their investigation of Bui Van Thuan. Thuan’s wife has been summoned twice by the police who warned her not to post information about her meetings with them on her Facebook page. Investigators said Thuan would be charged with spreading “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117.

September 2022:

Thirteen months after Bui Van Thuan was arrested, the Thanh Hoa provincial police finished their investigation on September 10 and charged Thuan for online postings deemed “detrimental to the security of the nation.” Trinh Thi Nhung, Thuan’s wife, told RFA she only found out about this when she went to the prison to bring him food on September 20. Nhung said Thuan also had told the Procuracy he wanted to have a lawyer to represent him in court.

October 2021:

After not hearing from Bui Van Thuan for a month and a half, his wife, Trinh Nhung, received a notice from prison authorities telling her that he’d been admitted to the hospital. Thuan was diagnosed with gout and a liver infection. Thuan is accused of “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 and is being held in a pretrial detention center in Thanh Hoa Province.

March 2022:

Bui Van Thuan’s wife received a letter from him for the first time since he was arrested on August 30 last year. Thuan said he’d had two shots of the Pfizer vaccine and was in generally good health due to regular exercise. But since last October he’d been having joint pains that doctors had looked at but couldn’t do anything about. Thus every 10 days or so he needs to take antibiotics and pain medication.

November 2022:

Human Rights Watch called on the government of Vietnam to drop the charges against Facebooker Bui Van Thuan ahead of his trial.

Video report of Thuan’s wife recalling the arrest of her husband

RFA article announces arrest of Bui Van Thuan, August 30, 2021

Facebook post from his wife, October 2021

Công an Thanh Hoá kết thúc điều tra đối với Facebooker Bùi Văn Thuận, RFA Vietnamese, September 20, 2022

Facebook post from his wife, March 2022

Police soon to wrap up investigation into Vietnamese Facebooker, Radio Free Asia, July 6, 2022

Interview with Trinh Thi Nhung, November 1, 2022

Tường thuật phiên tòa xử người bất đồng chính kiến, anh Bùi Văn Thuận, Tieng Dan, November 18, 2022

Vietnam: Drop Charges Against Dissident on Facebook, HRW, November 16, 2022

Profile last updated: 2022-11-21 20:23:02

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