RSF calls for blogger Mother Mushroom's release on eve of trial
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||28 June 2017|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, RSF calls for blogger Mother Mushroom's release on eve of trial, 28 June 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/595505884.html [accessed 18 December 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
>On the eve of Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's trial on an anti-state propaganda charge, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges Vietnam's judges to dismiss this unjust charge and free her unconditionally, and calls on the government to stop using article 88 of the penal code to silence its critics.
Better known by the blog name of "Me Nam" (Mother Mushroom), Quynh is finally due to be tried tomorrow after being held incommunicado for more than eight months. Arrested on 10 October 2016, she was accused of violating article 88 by "distorting the truth and history, defaming the Communist Party and inciting violence against the Party" in her blog posts.
Quynh is one of Vietnam's leading free speech advocates. On social networks, she raised the delicate issue of police violence and criticized the way the authorities handled a toxic spill from the Taiwanese-owned Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation plant in Ha Tinh province in April 2016.
In March of this year, she was one of the recipients of the International Women of Courage Award.
"Article 88 of the penal code should not be used as a pretext for silencing criticism of the regime, and the ruling Communist Party should stop treating freedom of expression as crime that must be systematically punished," RSF said.
Reporters Without Borders also condemns the harassment of Quynh's mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, who has been constantly followed by the local authorities every since Quynh's arrest.
Vietnam's Communist Party tolerates no criticism and controls all the media but, in recent years, dissidents have increasingly used online social networks to provide the population with freely reported information.
However, these independent reporters and critics are subjected to frequent intimidation attempts and reprisals. Their families are also often targeted, as was the case with the family of Pham Minh Hoang, a dissident blogger who was expelled to France just five days before the start of Quynh's trial.
Government opponents are often jailed in Vietnam, but Hoang was the first dissident to be stripped of his nationality and then expelled, despite the moving appeal he made in an interview for RSF a few days before his expulsion.
Vietnam is ranked 175th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.