A Vietnamese court recently sentenced blogger and human rights activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to 10 years in prison."We are deeply concerned," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, "about the conviction of. . .peaceful blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh."Also known as “Mother Mushroom,” she was the recent recipient of a 2017 International Woman of Courage Award at the State Department.
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested in October 2016 and charged with “conducting propaganda against the state” under article 88 of the penal code, which has been used to punish activists and critics of the government, according to Human Rights Watch.
With the motto “Who will speak if you don’t?”, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh wrote on social and political issues, including land confiscation, police abuse, and freedom of expression.She voiced support for fellow dissidents and publicly campaigned for the release of many political prisoners, including Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Nguyen Ngoc Gia, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Nguyen Huu Vinh, also known as Anh Ba Sam.
She received a Hellman Hammett grant from Human Rights Watch in 2010 as a writer defending free expression and was named the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year by Civil Rights Defenders."Above all," wrote Human Rights Watch, "she advocated for a social and political environment free from fear."
The United States calls on Vietnam to release Mother Mushroom and all other prisoners of conscience and to allow all individuals in Vietnam to express their views freely and assemble peacefully without fear of retribution.
"We’ve seen some positive steps on human rights in Vietnam over the past few years," said Ms. Nauert. "However, the trend of increased arrests and convictions of peaceful protests since early 2016 is deeply troubling."
Progress on human rights will enable the U.S.-Vietnam partnership to reach its fullest potential.