Jailed Prominent Vietnamese Blogger Mother Mushroom to Conduct Hunger Strike to Protest Prison Inhumane Treatment

Prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (C) stands between police in the dock during her appeal trial in Nha Trang resort city, Vietnam November 30, 2017.


Defend the Defenders, July 6, 2018

Prominent Vietnamese human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, who is serving her 10-year imprisonment, will conduct hunger strike to protest inhumane treatment of the authorities in the Prison Camp No. 5 located in Yen Dinh district, Thanh Hoa province.

In her telephone conversation with her mother Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan from the notorious prison for political activists in the early morning of July 6, Ms. Quynh, who is wellknown onsocial media as Mother Mushroom, said she will stop eating prison food and the food supplied by her mother.

It is not a normal call given the fact that Quynh used to make calls to her mother onSunday mornings.

Since June 26, Quynh has asked to meet with the prison’s authorities to settle problems she is facing but the authorities have to this pointdeniedany such meeting, said blogger Duong Dai Trieu Lam, a closed friend of Quynh’s family.

Last week, Ms. Lan visited Quynh in the prison and the blogger said she is under threat as one of the two inmates in their shared cell is cursing her all times.

Sometimes Quynh is placed in solitary confinementwithout proper ventilation and sunlight.

This would be the second hunger strike of Quynh within two months. In May, Quynh also stopped eating to protest the prison’s authorities who denied her right to communicate with her family by mails.

Quynh, the mother of two kids, was arrested on October 10, 2016 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code for her online postings on police brutality, country’s sovereignty, environmental pollutionand other issues.

In June 2017, she was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Her conviction has met strong international and domestic condemnation.

Last week, the NGO Vietnam VOICE launched a documentary film on Quynh titled When Mother’s Awayin Bangkok. However, the Thai government, likely under interventionfrom Hanoi, suspended its projection for the second time this week.

Quynh is a brave human rights defender and independent journalist. She has been honored with the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year by the Stockholm-based CivilRights Defenders, the United States Department of State International Women of Courage Award in 2017,and 2018 International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

On July 3, CPJ issued a statement calling Vietnam to release Quynh immediately and unconditionally.

“Vietnamese authorities must put an immediate stop to the deliberate psychological abuse of jailed Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s Southeast Asia representative. “As long as Quynh remains behind bars, the world will view Vietnam as an unconscionable abuser of basic human rights.”

In late June, on the occasion to mark one year of Quynh’s conviction, Civil Rights Defenders issued a statement reiterating its call for her freedom.

The living conditions in Vietnam’s prisons are hard. Inmates, especially prisoners of conscience,routinelyface alack of food, hygene and medical services. In addition, prison authorities useguards and criminal inmates to terrorizeand beat jailed activists. Many activists have conducted hunger strikes to protest inhumane treatment of prisons.

Jailed activists are often sent to prison camps far from their families which meet difficulties in making prison visits and supplying them with additional food and other basic things.