Luu Van Vinh

Current Status: Sentenced to prison

Photo of Luu Van Vinh

Other Names: Lưu Văn Vịnh

Date of Birth: 1967

Gender: M

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Construction contractor

Last Known Prison: Gia Trung prison, Gia Lai province

Areas of Activism:

  • Democracy
  • Land rights
  • Sovereignty

Highlighted Human Rights Concerns:

  • Denial of Family Visit/Punitive Prison Transfer

May 2024:

Le Thi Thap, the wife of Luu Van Vinh, and his youngest daughter, traveled to Gia Trung Prison to visit him from April 30-May 1. Vinh reported that after months of petitioning, he and a fellow inmate were finally given a general health checkup in April. He said his test results were generally good except for signs of calcification in his vertebrae. Thap told Project88 that due to the long distance between HCMC and Gia Lai Province – roughly 500 km apart –– and the fact that they are only allowed one family visit per month, she has has to arrange to visit him on the last day of the month so that she can go back the next day to see him again. The practice of jailing a political prisoner far away from home is one way the state puts additional hardship on the families of prisoners. 

Details - Background, History of Activism, Family Situation.

Vinh is a handyman from Hai Duong province, living in Ho Chi Minh City at the time of his arrest.

Vinh and his friend, Nguyen Van Duc Do, were both arrested for their roles in protesting Chinese activity in the South China Sea and the toxic Formosa spill that began in April 2016. Vinh founded a group called the Coalition for Self-Determination for Vietnamese People. 

Luu Van Vinh's wife and two kids met with him for the first time since his detention, over a year later, on November 13, 2017. The meeting was only 15 minutes long. Vinh received the news that his father had passed away since his detention began. His wife, Nguyen Thi Thap, had also been forced to close the family’s business due to police harassment. 

July 2019:

Nguyen Kim Thanh, wife of political prisoner Truong Minh Duc, made it to Camp 6 on July 12, 2019, but prison authorities refused to let her see her husband, and sent her out of the facility. Thanh and friends who came with her to the prison camp, including Le Thi Muoi, wife of political prisoner Luu Van Vinh, were also attacked outside of the camp. Duong Thi Tan, who accompanied Ms. Thanh and then returned to find the other group under attack, was also reportedly seriously assaulted by thugs on the way.

September 2023:

Le Thi Thap, Luu Van Vinh's wife, told Project 88 that she was summoned by police from Binh Tan District in HCMC to appear for questioning on Sept. 8.. When she appeared, she was advised to persuade her husband to plead guilty in order for him to be released early. Then they asked her whether any representatives from the U.S. consulate had visited her husband and if she had signed any petition letter to the president of the United States. She answered that since her husband was in jail, they should know whether or not anyone had visited him. They also told her that if her family had a desire to emigrate to the United States, they would help her fill out the paperwork. She just told them to give her the forms. After that, she was allowed to go home safely. 

Arrested November 6, 2016. Sentenced to 15 years in prison under Art. 331 (2015 Code), Art. 79 (1999 Code). Expected Release is November 6, 2031.

November 6, 2016
  • Art. 331 (2015 Code)
  • Art. 79 (1999 Code)
October 5, 2018
  • Dang Dinh Manh
  • Nguyen Van Mieng
15 years in prison
November 6, 2031
  • Vietnam Human Rights Network
  • Human Rights Watch

Vinh was arrested on November 6, 2016, after police came into his home, beat him, and took him away without presenting official documents. Nguyen Van Duc Do was also arrested after meeting with Vinh.

March 2018:

The People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City returned Luu Van Vinh's case to the authorities for further investigation, refusing to prosecute him at that time.

October 2018:

Luu Van Vinh (L) and co-defendants at trial on October 5, Source: AFP

Luu Van Vinh was sentenced to 15 years in prison on October 5, almost two years after his initial arrest.

His wife, Le Thi Thap, was not allowed to attend the public trial. Only after the help of two lawyers and a secretary, was she able to watch her husband’s trial through a screen outside the room. However, the film and the sound failed sometimes, which made it difficult to follow the trial.

When the court started, Luu Vinh raised his hand up and said that he did not agree with this trial and questioned why his relatives weren't present if it was a public trial. However, the judge interrupted and did not allow him to speak further.
During the court, the representatives of Procuracy kept emphasizing the accusations towards Vinh that he “took advantage of the development of the information, accessed the social media to read anti-government articles then posted on Facebook those information, which was harmful to the national security." They also asked others defendants many pointed questions, which were to blame Vinh for tempting them to commit the crimes alleged in thier indictments. However, none of the defendants agreed with the accusation. Only the prosecutor and judge could speak. Vinh and others were interrupted even when they were supposed to answer the questions of the representatives of the Procuracy. The judge ignored the defense from the lawyers and sentenced Vinh and the others heavily.

Luu Van Vinh was sentenced to 15 years in prison. His co-defendants were also sentenced to prison terms: Nguyen Quoc Hoan, 13 years; Nguyen Van Duc Do, 11 years; Tu Cong Nghia, 10 years; and Phan Van Trung, 8 years. 

December 2018:

On December 19, Le Thi Thap visited her husband, Luu Van Vinh, at Chi Hoa Detention Center. Vinh said that his appeal petition, which he sent on October 10, had not yet been resolved.

January 2019:

At 9:00 am on January 21, the appeal trial against Luu Van Vinh (sentenced to 15 years) and his co-defendants Nguyen Quoc Hoan (13 years), Nguyen Van Duc Do (11 years), Tu Cong Nghia (10 years), and Phan Van Trung (also known as Thich Nhat Hue, 8 years) began. But since one defense counsel, who was appointed by the authorities for Phan Trung, did not show up, the trial was postponed. No new date was announced. 

February 2019:

On February 20, 2019, Luu Van Vinh’s family went with Nguyen Quoc Hoan’s family to meet with the two political prisoners at Chi Hoa Detention Center. Despite allowing the four other families of the defendants in Vinh's case to meet with the prisoners, police prevented Vinh's wife, Le Thi Thap, and his daughter from meeting Vinh. They explained that they could not arrange Vinh's family's meeting because normally it is at the end of the month. However, their last meeting with Vinh was on January 16, more than a month prior, and by law, prisoners are allotted one visit with family per month.

After their usual meeting was delayed in that incident (by one week), Le Thi Thap was finally able to meet her husband at Chi Hoa Detention Center on February 27. Vinh’s blood pressure had been high, causing recent dizziness. Vinh told her that his one-month detention order expired on February 12, 2019, which was issued after his original appeal trial on January 12 was postponed. The next morning, the court sent him and his four co-defendants an Indefinite Detention Order, and no new appeal date had yet been set. No matter how long the appeal trial is delayed, Vinh and his colleagues affirmed they would not cancel their appeal petition.

March 2019:

On March 18, five activists faced their appeal trial at the Higher People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City. They are Luu Van Vinh (sentenced to 15 years) and his co-defendants Nguyen Quoc Hoan (13 years), Nguyen Van Duc Do (11 years), Tu Cong Nghia (10 years), and Phan Van Trung (also known as Thich Nhat Hue, 8 years). All five prisoners' sentences were upheld on appeal. The five maintained their innocence and protested the Court's decision. Only Vinh's wife was allowed inside the courtroom. The trial was originally set for January 21, 2019, but since one defense counsel, who was appointed by the authorities for Phan Trung, did not show up, the trial was postponed. 

Instead of informing Vinh’s and the others' families about their trials, a secretary from the court called their defense counsels, Nguyen Van Mieng and Dang Dinh Manh, on March 5, 2019. This was the third time that Le Thi Thap, Vinh’s wife, got the news on her husband’s trial from the lawyers.

May 2019:

On May 31, 2019, Luu Van Vinh called home for five minutes, during which he told his wife that he was transferred to Gia Trung prison in Gia Lai province. This is the fourth prison he has been sent to in the past 30 months. Vinh's wife took a 24-hour round trip to visit him in Gia Trung prison on June 3, but she was not allowed to see him. Vinh was refusing to wear the prison's uniform, so he has not been allowed to receive visitors. 

On May 21, 2019, Luu Van Vinh and his family met for only the third time since Vinh was detained in Bo La Center. Vinh was in good health and spirits. In this meeting, Vinh’s wife, Le Thi Thap, brought their daughter, who did not understand Vinh's sentence, but believed that Vinh was there pursuing a Ph.D. 

July 2019:

On July 20, 2019, Le Thi Thap, Vinh's wife, went to Gia Trung prison, Gia Lai province, to visit him. She brought their daughter as well. However, when they arrived, the prison guards didn’t allow Vinh to meet them. When she asked them why, they didn’t give her a straight answer. This was the third time prison officials prohibited Vinh from meeting with his family. 

February 2020:

On February 18, 2020, Luu Van Vinh's wife visited him in Gia Trung prison camp, Gia Lai, and was notified that Vinh was moved to another block, allegedly because he opposed the way they treated his daily diet and made it inedible. The new prison block is for prisoners convicted of economic crimes, and they seem to have alienated Vinh.


March 2020:

Luu Van Vinh‘s wife said her husband called her with an update. He said that due to the impact of COVID-19, families were not allowed to visit, so in the prison camp, many people were in need of everything. He told his wife he was still in isolation. A few days prior, he had a sore throat with a high fever and numbness all over his body, but he improved. 




November 2017:

After a November 2017 visit, his wife reported that Vinh's health was worsening; he looked slim and had poor skin and weakened vision because glasses were prohibited. 

December 2017:

Luu Van Vinh has faced nearly constant death threats from his cellmate, but authorities have denied his request for a cell transfer; they have also denied Vinh glasses sent from his family.

November 2016:

Amnesty International released an Urgent Action regarding Vinh's "risk of torture and other ill treatment" while detained. 

May 2018:

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) opined that the detention of pro-democracy activist Luu Van Vinh by authorities of Ho Chi Minh City is arbitrary and demanded his release.

October 2018:

“Thirteen people have been placed behind bars in the past five weeks for ‘crimes’ such as blogging, using Facebook and other peaceful pursuits," Amnesty International said in response to the October 5 trial. Human Rights Watch called for the release of the five co-defendants as well. 

March 2019:

Human Rights Watch called for the release of Vinh and his co-defendants, as well as activsit Le Minh The (who was facing his first-instance hearing during the same week), saying that "[i]nternational donors and trade partners should tell Vietnam that continuing this crackdown will cause problems for the aid and trade deals that Hanoi wants to conclude with North America and the European Union.”

August 2021:

The wives of four political prisoners in Vietnam wrote an open letter to Vice President Kamala Harris asking her to pressure Vietnamese leaders to release their husbands when she meets with the officials during her trip to Vietnam. The men are: Truong Minh DucNguyen Nang Tinh, Luu Van Vinh, and Tran Duc Thach. The letter was initially circulated only on Facebook, but by August 17 it was co-signed by 60 Viet-American pro-democracy, religious, media and community organizations.

December 2022:

The Vietnam Human Rights Network held its award ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany on December 10. The recipients of its Human Rights Award for this year were Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Luu Van Vinh and Tran Duc Thach – all are serving multi-year sentences in Vietnam. Their wives appeared on a video link from Vietnam to thank the organization and the international community for advocating on their husbands’ behalf.

Vietnam: 6 Activists Headed to Prison, Human Rights Watch, March 14, 2019

Five Vietnamese Activists Shout Down Judge After Subversion Appeals Rejected, Radio Free Asia, March 18, 2019

Family interview, May 2024

Profile last updated: 2024-05-14 17:58:47

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