Prominent blogger Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, aka Mẹ Nấm (“Mother Mushroom”) was arrested in Khanh Hoa, Vietnam on Oct. 10, 2016 under Article 88 for “propaganda against the State.” As a co-founder and coordinator of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers and the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year by Civil Rights Defenders, Mẹ Nấm is a well-known blogger both in the blogger community in Vietnam and internationally. She has been instrumental in human rights education in Vietnam in the past ten years through her blog posts and through her active participation in human rights promotion events off-line. She has written about politically sensitive issues such as police brutality, corruption, and has openly criticized controversial government’s policies such as the bauxite mining in the Central Highlands (for which she was arrested for 10 days in 2009), and, more recently, the government handling of the massive fish deaths in Central Vietnam.
Please take this Urgent Action by Amnesty International to demand Me Nam’s release, to ask that she has access to a lawyer and her family and that she’s treated in accordance with international law. Political prisoners in Vietnam are held incommunicado during the investigation/pre-trial period and face risks of torture and other ill-treatments, as documented by Amnesty International’s recent report “Prisons within prisons” on the conditions of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.
Below are the profile of blogger Me Nam by Civil Rights Defenders (2015) and news and reactions from the international community about her recent arrest.
Civil Rights Defenders, 2015: “At great personal risk, Me Nam has been right at the forefront of human rights activism in Vietnam. With creativity and openness, she is a source of inspiration as she breaks new ground for freedom of expression and speaks out for those who can’t.”
Ms. Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh is the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year. She is Coordinator for the Vietnamese Bloggers Network and well known for her use of social media to speak out against injustices and human rights abuses in Vietnam.
Quỳnh has been blogging under the pseudonym of Me Nam (Mother Mushroom) and has openly criticised the Vietnamese government over human rights abuses and corruption. She began blogging in early 2006 when she paid a visit to a hospital and witnessed many poor people in the hot sun desperately waiting for treatment, but ignored because they lacked money to bribe hospital officials.
Quoted on her award diploma Civil Rights Defenders sums up the wonderful spirit of this worthy recipient. “At great personal risk, Me Nam has been right at the forefront of human rights activism in Vietnam. With creativity and openness, she is a source of inspiration as she breaks new ground for freedom of expression and speaks out for those who can’t.”
Her personal motivation for blogging about injustices in Vietnam comes down to a very simple and personal reason, which she sums up in her own words; “I do not want my children to struggle and do what I’m doing now.”
Read our report about bloggers and the human rights movement in Vietnam: We will not be silenced
Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh – winner of the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2015.
The New York Times, Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government, Oct. 11, 2016
Committee to Protect Journalists, Prominent blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ detained in Vietnam, Oct. 11, 2016
Associated Press, US and EU call on Vietnam to release arrested blogger, Oct. 12, 2016
U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, Statement by U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, Oct. 12, 2016
United Nations, UN human rights chief expresses concern about Viet Nam’s crackdown on blogger, Oct. 14, 2016
Human Rights Watch, Vietnam: Reform Criminal Law to Respect Rights – Assembly Should Overhaul Laws Recently Used to Silence Blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’, Oct. 17, 2016
Reporters without Borders, RSF calls for blogger’s immediate release, Oct. 17, 2016
Vietnamese Bloggers, Campaign to Free Me Nam (in Vietnamese)