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Memoirs of 26 years in Exile in Communist VIET NAM by Ven. Thich Thien Minh

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Outline of personal childhood.

The event of April 30, 1975 that affected a monk’s life. Slandering, persecution and oppression of religions by local Communist authorities.

Supporters of political organizations are accused of being political activists and labeled as ringleaders.

  1. From offering free medical treatment for poor people to supporting political movements and involvement in a prosecution.
  2. First arrest and investigation at the office of Political Defense at Minh Hai Province.
  3. First Detention Center at Vinh Loi, Minh Hai.
  4. Failure in the plot to plan an escape for prisoners at Vinh Loi Detention Center due to oversight and lack of experience.

Second Detention Center by the Criminal Police Bureau of the Police Department of Minh Hai.

  1. Use of sham offenders as camp stool pigeons.
  2. Fierce argument between me and Pham Minh Chanh, Head of the Executive Office of the Police Department of Minh Hai who directly investigated me for over 8 months.

Third Detention Center at Ca Mau and the postponement of the execution of the sentence of the Court of First Instance.

  1. The tragic circumstance of my family with my younger brother Nghia forced to quit school.
  2. The Ca Mau Detention Center and proof of sufferance after April 30, 1975.
  3. Last investigation with the ‘Good Cop’ and the ‘Bad Cop’. First postponement of my First Instance Sentence. More evidence collected for the second trial.
  4. Argument against Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Co, Head of the People’s Procuracy of Minh Hai.
  5. Transfer from Ca Mau Detention Center to Cay Gua Detention Center and appearance before the Court of Appeal.
  6. Transfer from Cay Gua Detention Center to Cay Gua Reform Center.
    a. Unpaid debts from previous karma: ‘bad beginning happy ending’.
    b. Failure in the plot to escape from Cay Gua Reform Center

Transfer from solitary confinement at Cay Gua Reform Center, Minh Hai, to Detention Center in Xuan Phuoc, Phu Khanh also known as “The Death Valley”.

  1. Meeting with a heroine, Thai Thi Kim Son, a political prisoner from Bac Lieu, on a truck leading to an exile, together with 21 inmates.
  2. Two memorable nights at a rest stopover in Section AH, Chi Hoa Prison in Saigon on the way to exile.


  1. Spiritual and material life of prisoners at Xuan Phuoc Cam.
  2. Failure at second attempt to take over Xuan Phuoc Camp and free the prisoners
  3. Poems written in jail by prisoners.
  4. A meeting between leaders of different religions in solitary confinement at Xuan Phuoc Camp.
  5. My brother Huynh Huu Nhieu carried out my Mother’s last wishes.

The long journey from Phu Khanh to Camp Z30 at Xuan Loc, Dong Nai

  1. A moving story on our trip to the South.
  2. Sub camp 1 of camp Z30A at Xuan Loc, Dong Nai.
  3. The evil wardens at camp Z30A
  4. A shameless deceit by the Camp Supervision Committee at Xuan Loc.
  5. Contacts with Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and a memorable souvenir of my jail time.

Meeting with the UN Delegation in charge of Religion at Xuan Loc Camp.

  1. Transfer to regular cell after 6 years in solitary confinement with continuous forced labor.
  2. Claims by Political and Religious Prisoners at Xuan Loc Camp.
  3. Some experiences and memorable jail stories.
  4. A hard to prove injustice at Xuan Phuoc camp. The sorrowful circumstance of my brother Nhieu.
  5. Antenna, a name for those prisoners who were enticed by wardens to spy on fellow inmates.
  6. The policy of using prisoners to rule over their fellow inmates.
  7. Strange but true stories in the Communist jail.

The 4 categories of Vietnamese Political Prisoners

  1. Fighting for the National spirit.
  2. Fighting out of rancor.
  3. Fighting for own interest.
  4. Fighting to swim with the tide.

Unforgettable benefactors during jail time. Contacts with members of overseas Vietnamese Organizations imprisoned in Vietnam.

  1. Contacts with some members of Vietnamese Overseas Organizations imprisoned in Vietnam.
  2. Legitimate and practical aspirations of political prisoners in Communist prisons in Vietnam.
  3. List of 60 political prisoners still remained at Xuan Loc camp during my last days in jail before my release.
  4. Innermost feelings of some non-criminal prisoners in solitary confinement.


Pictures and Appendix

About the Author Final (This Part will be written in the back cover of the book)
Venerable Thich Thien Minh, secular name Huynh Van Ba, is of Bac Lieu origin. Between 1979 and 1986, he was imposed 2 life sentences by the Communist Government of Vietnam due to his fighting for Freedom of Religion, Human rights and the Reactivation of the Vietnamese Unified Buddhist Congregation.
In 1995, at Z30A Detention Camp at Xuan Loc, he and other prisoners of conscience fought for the improvement of living conditions in prison and human treatment of prisoners. He also demanded that the properties confiscated from the Buddhist
Congregations to be returned. Among others are the abolishment of Clause 4 in the Constitution, the acceptance of multi-party and free election supervised by an International Committee. For this, he was put in shackles in a solitary cell and badly beaten and tortured during many years.
This incident was condemned by the UN in 1997. And in 2004, a UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, came to the camp for a visit and interview with him. Under pressure from the UN and other Vietnamese overseas, the Hanoi Regime reduced his sentence to 20 years. Finally, he was released during the Lunar New Year of the Rooster (2005).
After 26 years in exile with 2 life sentences, Ven. Thich Thien Minh is considered one of the fighters who spent the longest jail time in Vietnam. He was in jail at age 26 and out of it at age 52.
Since his release, he has continuously been fighting for Democracy and Human Rights for Vietnam and particularly asking the Hanoi Regime to release the Prisoners of Conscience and Religion who are still imprisoned by the Communist Vietnam.
After many years of networking, in December 2006, Ven. Thich Thien Minh, together with other former prisoners of Religion and Conscience formed the Vietnamese Political and Religious Prisoners Friendship Association