Bùi Tín

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Bùi Tín
Born(1927-12-29)29 December 1927
Hanoi, French Indochina
Died11 August 2018(2018-08-11) (aged 90)
Montreuil, Paris, France
Allegiance North Vietnam
Service/branchFlag of the People's Army of Vietnam.svg People's Army of Vietnam
Years of service1945–1990
Battles/warsVietnam War

Bùi Tín (29 December 1927 – 11 August 2018) was a Vietnamese dissident and People's Army of Vietnam colonel. After the war, he became disillusioned by corruption and the continuing isolation of the newly unified Vietnam and decided to leave Vietnam and live in exile in Paris to express his growing dissatisfaction with Vietnam's Communist leadership and their political system.

Early life and education[edit]

Bùi Tín was born near Hanoi on 29 December 1927, and was educated in Huế.


During the August Revolution in 1945, Bùi Tín became an active supporter to politically pressure the government of France to cede Vietnam its independence. He later joined the Việt Minh along with Chairman Hồ Chí Minh and General Võ Nguyên Giáp. He would fight on two sides of the line, using both weapons and his skills as a journalist for the Vietnam People's Army newspaper. He enlisted in the Vietnamese People's Army at age 18. He was wounded during the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu.[1]

Bùi Tín would serve on the general staff of the North Vietnamese army. During the Vietnam War, he had authority from Defense Minister Võ Nguyên Giáp to visit any of the camps where American POWs were held, meet with the camp officers, look at the POW files, and interview the POWs.[2] During at least one such occasion, he was involved in an interrogation of John McCain.[2][3]

Bùi Tín was with the North Vietnamese PAVN in the South in 1975, reporting for Nhân Dân.[4] He claims to have been called into service at the Fall of Saigon because of his Army rank of colonel and to have personally accepted the surrender of Dương Văn Minh and his Cabinet,[5] but this was disputed by the Vietnamese government after his 1990 defection effectively rendered him Persona non grata.[6][7]

After the war ended, he went on to serve as the Vice Chief Editor of the People's Daily (Nhân Dân, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam), responsible for the Sunday People's (Nhân Dân Chủ Nhật). He became disillusioned in the mid-1980s with postwar corruption and the continuing isolation of Vietnam. In 1990, Bùi Tín decided to leave Vietnam and live in exile in Paris to express his growing dissatisfaction with Vietnam's Communist leadership and their political system.[8]

In November 1991, Tín became involved in the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue when he appeared before hearings of the United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs in Washington, D.C.[2] He stated that, "I can say that I know as well as any top leader in Vietnam and, in my opinion, I state categorically that there is not any American prisoner alive in Vietnam."[2] After his testimony, he and former POW John McCain embraced, which produced a flurry of "Former Enemies Embrace"-style headlines.[3] Tín's testimony was the subject of anticipation: when he had arrived at Dulles International Airport three weeks earlier, former U.S. Congressman Bill Hendon and a staff assistant to committee vice-chair Bob Smith confronted Tin and tried to convince him that there were live prisoners in Vietnam; Tín felt it was an intimidation attempt.[9]

Tín subsequently published two books, Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel (University of Hawaii Press, 1995)[10] and From Enemy To Friend: A North Vietnamese Perspective on the War (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2002).[11]

In a 2000 PBS American Experience forum, he maintained that no captured U.S. soldiers had been tortured during their captivity in North Vietnam during the war. He conceded the same might not be true of captured U.S. pilots, going so far as calling some of their alleged treatment "a violation of the International Agreement on Prisoner of War".[12]

He died in Montreuil, France on 11 August 2018.[13]


  1. ^ Bùi Tín (20 October 1991). "Vietnam: The Betrayal of A Revolution; Victims of Discredited Doctrine, My People Now Look to America". The Washington Post.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d Hearings before the Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, United States Senate, 7 November 1991. See transcript pages 461 ff. [1]
  3. ^ a b McCain, John; Mark Salter (2002). Worth the Fighting For. Random House. ISBN 0-375-50542-3. pp. 245–247.
  4. ^ Bui 1999, p. 83
  5. ^ Bui 1999, p. 84
  6. ^ Bui 1999, p. 85
  7. ^ "A closer look at the wider significance of Colonel Bui Tin's death". The Diplomat. 18 August 2018.
  8. ^ "The communist reporter scrubbed from the history books". BBC. 19 August 2018.
  9. ^ Don Oberdorfer (20 October 1991). "Bui Tin: My 'Detention' at Dulles". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ Bui, Tin (1 August 1995). Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel. Univ of Hawaii Pr. ISBN 0824816730.
  11. ^ Tin, Bui (14 June 2002). From Enemy to Friend: A North Vietnamese Perspective on the War. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 155750881X.
  12. ^ "American Experience: Return With Honor: Online Forum". PBS. 15 November 2000. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  13. ^ "Nhà báo, nhà bất đồng chính kiến Bùi Tín qua đời". BBC News Tiếng Việt. 11 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.

External links[edit]