Vietnam: Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh sentenced to 10 years in jail

Front Line Defenders, June 29, 2017

On 29 June 2017, the People’s Court in Khanh Hoa province in Nha Trang sentenced human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to 10 years’ imprisonment for  “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is a blogger and Coordinator of the Vietnamese Bloggers Network. Since 2006, she has been blogging under the pseudonym of Me Nam (Mother Mushroom). She has exposed corruption cases and human rights violations committed by the authorities, and as a result, has been targeted and subjected to arrest and physical attacks. She is the recipient of the 2014 Human Rights Defender award from the Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defenders and was recently awarded the 2017 International Women of Courage Award from the US Department of State.

On 29 June 2017, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was given a 10 year jail sentence after a one day trial in the People’s Court in Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa province. She was convicted under counts a, b and c of Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code, related to “conducting anti-state propaganda”. This article is widely used against human rights defenders who have highlighted abuses in Vietnam.

The court used evidence collected during a police raid on her house on 10 October 2016, the day she was arrested. The evidence consisted mainly of signs and banners related to the Formosa spill disaster, calling for more transparency and accountability from the Taiwanese plant and the Vietnamese government. The court also presented articles written on her blog under the pen name Me Nam that were deemed anti-state and anti-police by the court. The articles presented information collected by the human rights defender about cases of deaths in police custody. Her interviews to foreign and independent media were also used as evidence against her.

Before the trial, the security police and the anti-protest unit deployed a large number of officers in the surroundings of the People’s Court in Nha Trang as well as around the house of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh. On the day of the trial, the defender’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, had trouble reaching the court because of the police presence. When she finally did, she was not allowed to attend the trial in the main room and was led to an adjacent room where she watched her daughter’s trial on a television screen. No foreign delegations or diplomats were permitted in the courtroom, which was filled with plainclothes officers. Seven activists who came to Nha Trang to support Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh were detained while many others were barred from approaching the courtroom or kept under de facto house arrest in Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.

In the days prior to her trial, state media conducted a smear campaign against her and broadcast old clips linked to previous charges on Vietnamese television, in which she admitted guilt.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the conviction of human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, which it believes is solely motivated by her peaceful and legitimate work for human rights in Vietnam, and calls on the Vietnamese authorities to quash her conviction and immediately release the human rights defender.