Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh

Current Status: Sentenced

Photo of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh

Other Names: Me Nam, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh

Date of Birth: July 18, 1979

Gender: F

Religion: Christian (Catholic)

Ethnicity: Kinh

Occupation: Tour guide

Latest Prison: Song Lo Detention Center, Khanh Hoa province

Areas of Activism:

  • Anti-corruption
  • Democracy
  • Environment
  • Human rights
  • Land rights
  • Maritime sovereignty
  • Police Brutality

Known Affiliations:

  • Network of Vietnamese Bloggers

Arrest History

Arrest 1

September 3, 2009
September 12, 2009

Arrest 2

October 10, 2016
June 29, 2017
10 years in prison
  • Art. 88
October, 2026
Defense Counsels: Ha Huy Son; Vo An Don; Nguyen Kha Thanh; Nguyen Ha Luan

Details

February 2018:

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, visited her in prison briefly on February 5 and reported that Quynh is still in poor health, with curled up fingers and toes and having suffered from an allergic reaction to medication. The prison has denied Quynh medication from her mother. 

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and her children, January 2016. Source: Facebook
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and her children, January 2016. Source: Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh Facebook

Quynh is from Khanh Hoa province. She studied foreign languages in university and reportedly began engaging in more political conversations thereafter. She began blogging in 2006.

Quynh is a single mother of two young children. By the time of her arrest in 2016, her daughter was 10 years old and her son, 4 years old.

Quynh is a co-founder of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers. She has written about politically-sensitive issues such as police brutality, corruption, and environmental degradation, and is also active in the offline human rights community. She is well-known for her coverage of the 2016 Formosa toxic spill and its subsequent fallout. Quynh was awarded the International Woman of Courage Award from the US State Department in 2017, which she was unable to accept in person. She was also Civil Rights Defender’s 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year.

First arrest:

In September 2009, Quynh was arrested for 10 days after posting on the Internet her opinion against the Bauxite mining project in the Central Highland and the state's policy towards China, being accused of "infringing upon national security." She was released as the police determined that her actions were not "serious enough" to press charge against her.

Second arrest:

Quynh was arrested in Khanh Hoa province on October 10, 2016, for spreading propaganda against the state, and was in incommunicado pre-trial detention until her trial on June 29, 2017. Quynh was sentenced to ten years in prison in a one-day trial. The trial was brief, secretive and guarded, continuing a pattern of trials in recent years with few or no outside press, family, or community members allowed. Her mother was barred from attending the trial.

An appeal court in Khanh Hoa province upheld her ten-year prison sentence on November 30. Quynh admitted to her activities but defended her right to free speech and maintained her innocence. Following the usual pattern for trials of activists charged under "national security" provisions, the trial was secretive and short, lasting only three hours. Supporters were prohibited from entering the courtroom, and after protesting the decision outside of the courthouse, were violently dispersed by pro-government thugs. Quynh's mother had written to EU representatives earlier in the week, urging them to attend the trial, since Vietnamese trials of activists are frequently touted as being open. One of Quynh's defense lawyers, Vo An Don, had been disbarred just days before the trial.

October 2017:

Authorities have made it extremely difficult for her mother to visit her in prison, and Quynh is suffering from a hand issue.

Quynh is in poor health, and her mother’s requests to send vitamin supplements to Quynh have been denied. According to her mother, in an October 2017 visit, Quynh looked pale and weak. She has not been able to sleep at night as she has cramps due to the cold weather. Her mother brought in a sealed bottle of Calcium and D3 for Quynh but the prison authorities refused, giving the reason that “there’s no doctor’s prescription.” Her request to send Quynh a Bible was also denied because, as the authorities explained, apart from “The People,” the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Vietnam, no other books or magazines are allowed in prison.

Prior to arrest: healthy

October 2017:

According to her mother, in an October 2017 visit, Quynh looked pale and weak. She has not been able to sleep at night as she has cramps due to the cold weather. Her fingers curled up on one hand. The authorities have denied some supplies from her family, including vitamin supplements and the Bible.

December 2017:

Quynh’s defense counsels, after meeting with her in preparation for the appeal trial, also reported that Quynh suffers from headache and cannot sleep as a result.

February 2018:

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, visited her in prison briefly on February 5 and reported that Quynh is still in poor health, with curled up fingers and toes and having suffered from an allergic reaction to medication. The prison has denied Quynh medication from her mother. 

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's mother and children, November 2017. Source: Nguyen Tuyet Lan Facebook
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's mother and children, November 2017. Source: Nguyen Tuyet Lan Facebook

Quynh’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, is now caring for Quynh’s two young children. Lan has been followed and harassed by authorities since her daughter's arrest.

Contact us if you can assist.

December 2016:

Quynhs’ mother, Ms. Nguyen Tuyet Lan, wrote a letter in December 2016 thanking Quynh's supporters.

June 2017:

Quynh's detention was deemed arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

July 2017:

Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action for Quynh to call on the Vietnamese authorities to ensure that she has access to adequate medical care.

September 2017:

Quynh was one of the focus cases of the VOICE UPR campaign in late 2017.

October 2017:

Quynh's 11-year-old daughter wrote a letter to the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, asking for her assistance in releasing her mother from prison on the occasion of the first family’s trip to Vietnam for the APEC summit in November. “Please help unite my family since I know my Mom did not do anything wrong and furthermore, you were the one to give her the ‘International Women of Courage’ award,” she writes. Read the full translation of the letter here. The 11-year-old’s nickname, Nam, which means Mushroom, inspired Quynh to take the name Me Nam, or Mother Mushroom. 

A group of Western and Vietnamese scholars and experts on Vietnam  issued a joint statement condemning the imprisonment of pro-democracy bloggers Quynh and Tran Thi Nga (serving nine years in prison). The statement’s signatories include scholars from leading universities in Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The signatories focused on the two imprisoned Vietnamese women because of “their lengthy sentences,” their modest “offenses,” and the fact that their young children “desperately need them at home.”

Civil Rights Defenders also released a statement calling on Cambodia, Burma, and Vietnam to end their crimes against and repression of journalists in those countries, citing the lengthy prison sentences given to citizen journalists Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, and Nguyen Van Oai in 2017 in Vietnam. They also released a statement on the one-year anniversary of her arrest calling for her unconditional release.

Ted Osius, former US Ambassador to Vietnam, told Reuters that the administration has advocated for Quynh’s release, and the release of other prisoners of conscience, recently and on multiple occasions.

November 2017:

November 15 marked the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. PEN International highlighted Mother Mushroom’s case, believing “that Me Nam is being targeted for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression.” PEN also encouraged supporters to take action for Quynh, calling for her immediate release.

After her appeal was denied, several international human rights organizations and government officials, including the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Vietnam Caryn McClelland, condemned the decision. Ahead of the EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue on December 1, the Head of the Delegation of the EU to Vietnam spoke out against the upholding of Quynh's sentence.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s Facebook page

The 88 Project’s archives

Defend the Defenders’s archives

Frontline Defenders’s profile

Mother Mushroom: how Vietnam locked up its most famous blogger, The Guardian, July 8, 2017 

Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government, The New York Times, October 11, 2016 

Urgent Action: Ten years in prison for human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Amnesty International, July 12, 2017 

Profile last updated: 2018-02-11 20:19:58