Responding to news of the release of blogger “Mother Mushroom” in Viet Nam, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and South East Asia, said:
“This good news, which comes as a relief after two years behind bars, should also be a reminder of Viet Nam’s worsening record of jailing anyone who criticizes the regime. While Mother Mushroom is no longer imprisoned, the condition for her release was exile and there are over 100 people languishing in jail because they peacefully spoke their mind – in public, on blogs or on Facebook.
Mẹ Nấm’s case was chosen as one of Amnesty International’s 2018 annual Write for Rights cases. Write for Rights is Amnesty’s largest annual human rights campaign, generating thousands of letters, postcards, and emails worldwide on behalf of 11 cases each year to free prisoners of conscience, stop torture, and end human rights abuses.
“The mobilization around the world for Mother Mushroom’s case should trigger a change of course for Viet Nam’s leaders. The Cybersecurity Law due to take effect in January 2019 will only give authorities more tools to silence dissent and put people away. It should not be implemented – lest others face the same horrific treatment as Mother Mushroom and other peaceful critics still in jail. All prisoners of conscience should have their sentences quashed and should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, also known by her blogging pseudonym, Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom) was arrested on October 10, 2016 and held incommunicado until June 20, 2017. On June 29, 2017, she was handed a ten-year prison sentence, having been convicted of “conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 88 of Viet Nam’s Penal Code.
Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh co-founded the independent Vietnamese Bloggers Network in December 2013. She is a mother of two children, who has on numerous occasions faced harassment, arrest and interrogation for her peaceful activities, and has been prevented from travelling overseas. She has advocated for human rights and justice for more than 10 years and is a popular and well-known blogger.