PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE CASE REPORT
Mr. Bui van Trung, Hoa Hao Buddhist
Four years prison sentence for exercising the Right to Freedom of Religion
Mr. Bùi VănTrung
Mr.Bùi VănTrung, , born in 1964, resided in Phuoc Binh hamlet, Phuoc Hung commune, An Phu district, An Giang province,Vietnam
Mr. Trung was arrested Oct. 30th, 2012 and on Jan.23th, 2013 was sentenced to four years of imprisonment for resisting persons in the performance of their official duties“ and “causing public disorder” according to Article 245 of the Criminal Code of Vietnam (VCC) by the court of first instance in An Phu district.
Mr. Trung is currently jailed in Xuan Loc prison, Dong Nai province.
Reason of arrest.
Mr. Bui van Trung is a teacher and a Hoa Hao buddhist, religiously active and very engaged in civic life, devoting his time for promoting social morality. Being the youngest son, he was in charge of the cult of the ancestors. On the occasions of the death anniversaries in his family, he used to hold lectures on Hoa Hao buddhist teachings for the guests. This habit led to the establishment of the Prayer Hall Ut Trung“ in 2005.
A prayer hall“ is a place where people sharing the same wish meet regularly to worship and study religious teachings, with or without the presence of a religious ordained person. It can be in monasteries, temples or simply in private homes.
After 1975, all the establishments for Hoa Hao religious activities such as pagodas, meeting halls and lecture halls were seized by the government to be assigned to the State-sponsored Hoa Hao Buddhist Church or to be torn down, or left vacant till they collapsed with time. The needs of the believers to practice the religion freely like in the ealiest times (1939) gave rise to some prayer halls in private homes of a layman or a religious ordained person.
In the case of Mr. Bui Van Trung, from the moment he objected to joining the state-sponsored Hoa Hao Buddhist Church, the religious activities of Prayer Hall Ut Trung began getting into troubles. The local government proceeded according to a three-staged planning to first create difficulties, than prevent activities and finally arrest Mr Trung.