how Vietnam locked up its most famous blogger

Each man or woman handiest has an existence, however, if I had the chance to pick again I would nevertheless pick my way.”

They are the phrases of one in all Vietnam’s maximum influential bloggers — known via her on-line pseudonym, Mother Mushroom — mins earlier than she becomes exceeded the shock sentence of a decade in prison. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh directed her defiant feedback at her 61-year-vintage mother, who become watching a stay feed in a room next door as she became not permit into the court docket.

The 37-12 months-antique become accused of defaming Vietnam’s communist regime in her blogs and interviews with foreign media.

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“I clapped my fingers inside the room, wherein 20 safety officers checked out me with very irritated eyes, however, I become now not afraid; I was OK, very pleased with her,” stated Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan.

Arrested in October at the same time as attempting to visit some other dissident in prison, Quynh, 37, has already spent nine months in the back of bars, in what her attorney said had been desperate conditions.

She subsisted best on a diet of anchovies and spinach soup for the first seven months, and turned into denied each sanitary pads and undies, Vo An Don said.

After Quynh become arrested on 10 October, her mom heard not anything approximately her whereabouts or wellness till a quick reunion in prison hours earlier than her 29 June trial for crimes towards the country.

The months had taken their toll on her daughter, Lan informed the Guardian in a cellphone interview from her domestic inside the southern coastal city of Nha Trang. Quynh regarded sickly during their meeting, she stated.

“I stated: ‘My pricey daughter, now I accept as true with you’re still alive.’ But she seemed susceptible with very pale skin,” she added.



Vietnam is infamous for its limits on freedom of expression, but Mother Mushroom’s detention and unusually prolonged sentence raised clean alarm most of the country’s blogging network, which avoids the censorship of country-manage print media. The US state department fast called for all prisoners of conscience to be released right now.

While Quynh has been branded a “reactionary” by the nation for her anti-authorities blogging, her pals and own family shield her as a champion of free expression in a country in which dissent against single birthday party rule is outlawed.

“My daughter has executed a regular aspect in an ordinary society, so she has to pay the fee of prison and being denounced,” Lan said.

Quynh rose to fame in Vietnam’s blogosphere inside the overdue 2000s for her doggedly independent citizen journalism. A founding member of the underground Vietnamese Bloggers Network, she is particularly enthusiastic about environmentalism, police brutality and Vietnam’s dispute with China over the manager of the South China Sea.

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Lan stated her daughter’s political awakening commenced after studying overseas languages in college.

Upon coming across the pluralistic on-line international, Quynh got here to her mom with hard questions.

“She asked me: ‘Mum, do you understand this or that [about the government]?’ I stated I did, she wondered me, ‘Why didn’t you inform me?’” recalled Lan.

“I advised her I knew, however in this society, we are residing in, it isn’t the society in which you may communicate out, and they’ll denounce you.”

Quynh has because grow to be a distinguished determine outside Vietnam and has championed efforts in Vietnamese civil society to keep political discussions on Facebook. The government has grown to be so angered with the aid of the motion that it has referred to as on all companies in Vietnam to prevent advertising and marketing on YouTube and Facebook.

N March the United States first female, Melania Trump, provided Quynh the International Women of Courage Award, which Vietnam said: “turned into not suitable and of no gain to the development of the family members between the 2 nations”.

Quynh’s pals described her as Frank and warm-tempered but authentic to her word.

“She constantly spoke out what she turned into wondering, in order that’s why it’s now not exact for her when she induced trouble with this kind of persona, however, she became a person who continually does what she says she will be able to,” said Trinh Kim Tien, a 27-year-old Ho Chi Minh City-primarily based activist.

Quynh’s ultimate posts on Facebook, her favored running a blog medium earlier than her detention, had been a combination of repostings of articles by different activists and short, poetic, biting assaults at the state.

“What type of a society is it in which people responsible for their [high] positions, in which the officials don’t forget the citizens greater silly than pigs?” she wrote on 29 September.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for the New York primarily based Human Rights Watch, stated her involvement in protests towards the Taiwanese-owned Formosa Ha Tinh Steel plant in north-imperative Vietnam, which was connected to a catastrophic fish die-off in 2016, become the remaining straw for the authorities.

“Mother Mushroom’s distinguished ties to the anti-Formosa movement, which the authorities are increasingly viewing as a safety mission to its authority, the method she became the best candidate for a heavy sentence designed to sideline her and intimidate others,” Robertson stated.

Human Rights Watch says there are approximately a hundred and ten known political prisoners in Vietnam, despite the fact that the USA denies preserving any. Speaking at a press convention at the day of the trial, foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said: “all violations of laws ought to be extraordinarily punished in accordance with the legal guidelines of Vietnam”.

Pham Than Nghien, a chum of Quynh whose own running a blog led to her being imprisoned from 2008 to 2012, said she cried when the decision was introduced.

“While I wasn’t astonished because she had committed many crimes according to the regime … I could sense my palms and legs shiver,” she stated.

“We’re pals, we’re also each girl, and I sense sympathy for her kids, her own family.”

Quynh’s mom, Lan, is now tasked with raising her two grandchildren while their mom remains in jail. Unless the state presents Quynh clemency the children will develop up parentless.