Phan Van Thu

Name:    Phan Van Thu   

Area of Origin: Vietnam (Ethnic Vietnamese)

Background: Founder of the Buddhist sect An Doan Dai Dao (ADDD)

Reason for his arrest: On February 5, 2012, the police arrested Mr. Thu, a Buddhist sect leader known for his work among Vietnam’s poor. Authorities charged him and several followers with “abusing rights to freedom and democracy to harm State interests”, subsequently modified the charge to  “plotting to overthrow the government of Vietnam.” In January 2013 the Phu Yen Province Lower Court tried 22 ADDD adherents. Lacking any real evidence, the court relied only on false charges and “confessions” extracted from the tortured victims to sentence the ADDD adherents to lengthy prison terms. Mr. Thu received a life sentence because he was the founder of this sect.

An Dan Dai Dao (Blessed Flock of the Great Way, Vietnamese abbreviation: ADDD) is a religious organization aiming to bring Buddhist enlightenment to everybody. Mr. Thu founded the sect in 1969. By April 30, 1975, ADDD had established 14 temples, ordained hundreds of monks and nuns, and had tens of thousands of adherents. After the 1975 Communist invasion of South Vietnam, the new regime focused on eliminating this sect through seizing all its temples and religious materials and prosecuting Mr. Thu and other believers.  A number of ADDD adherents fled to the U.S.

After relocating several times to avoid persecution, Mr. Thu and a number of followers (including a number of followers who returned as U.S. nationals) spent their own money and worked hard with their hands to build an entire eco-resort near Da Bia Mountain, a remote site in Phu Yen Province. The sect was hoping to support its members’ religious activities through income generated from tourists spending time at the eco-resort. No member had any kind of political agenda

On February 4, 2012, the police of Phu Yen Province charged Mr. Thu and several followers with “abusing rights to freedom and democracy to harm State interests”. The government subsequently  changed its charge of the remaining victims to “plotting to overthrow the government of Vietnam.” In January 2013 the Phu Yen Province Lower Court tried 22 ADDD adherents. Lacking any real evidence, the court relied only on false charges and “confessions” extracted from the tortured victims to sentence the ADDD adherents to lengthy prison terms. Mr. Thu received a life sentence because he was the founder of this sect.

Experts believe his arrest and sentencing are related to the ruling Communist Party’s attempts to decimate independent churches.

Current Status as of February 2019:

  • The victim still languishes in prison and his health is quite poor.