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Arrest of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh

Status: 
Arrested, charged
About the situation

On 17 June 2017, human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s legal team was notified that her trial was scheduled for 29 June 2017, more than 8 months after she was arrested for “conducting anti-state propaganda”. 

About Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu QuynhNguyen 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 is known for her criticism of the government, including revealing corruption cases and human rights violations committed by the authorities. As a result, she has repeatedly been targeted, including being arrested and physically attacked. In 2014, she received a Human Rights Defender award from the Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defenders.

21 June 2017
Trial scheduled for 29 June

On 17 June 2017, human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s legal team was notified that her trial was scheduled for 29 June 2017, more than 8 months after she was arrested for “conducting anti-state propaganda” on 10 October 2016. Her family was never formally notified and, on 19 June 2017, her mother Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan was denied by the People’s Court in Vietnam’s central province of Khanh Hoa her request to attend her daughter’s open trial.

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 is known for her criticism of the government, including revealing corruption cases and human rights violations committed by the authorities. As a result, she has repeatedly been targeted, including being arrested and physically attacked. In 2014, she received a Human Rights Defender award from the Stockholm-based NGO Civil Rights Defenders.

On 20 June 2017, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was allowed to meet with one of her lawyers, Nguyen Kha Thanh. During his visit, he learned that since her arrest, the human rights defender had been imprisoned in Cam Ranh, about 70 kilometers from Nha Trang, where her mother and children currently live. The authorities never informed her family of the place she was being detained. It is only recently, on 7 May 2017, that Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was transferred back to Nha Trang ahead of her trial.

On 14 June 2017, it emerged that Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh had been formally charged with three criminal counts under article 88 (1) of the Vietnamese Penal Code, which carry a penalty of between 3 and 12 years imprisonment. Her detention period was also extended by two and a half months.

Front Line Defenders urges the Vietnamese authorities to drop all charges against human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh as it is believed that they are solely motivated by her legitimate and peaceful work for human rights in Vietnam.

16 June 2017
Authorities formally charge and extend detention of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh

On 14 June 2017, it emerged that human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh had been formally charged with three criminal counts under article 88 (1) of the Vietnamese Penal Code, which carry a penalty of between 3 and 12 years imprisonment. Until the 14 June 2017, the authorities had said that she was being detained on charges of ‘propaganda against the state’ without specifying which counts. On 4 June 2017, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s mother was notified by the court that her daughter’s detention would be extended by two and a half months. She has been detained since 10 October 2016.

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 14 June 2017, it emerged that the Vietnamese authorities had formally charged Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh with counts a, b and c of Article 88 of the Penal Code, related to ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’. If found guilty, she faces up to 12 years in prison. She is charged with ‘Propagating against, distorting and/or defaming the people’s administration’, ‘Propagating psychological warfare and spreading fabricated news in order to foment confusion among people’ and ‘Making, storing and/or circulating documents and/or cultural products with contents against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested on 10 October 2016 and has been held in a detention centre in Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province ever since, without being permitted visits from her family or her lawyers. On 20 May 2017, the human rights defender’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, as well as her two children were placed under de facto house arrest for a number of days while the Vietnam-US Human Rights Dialogue took place in Hanoi. They remain under police surveillance.

Front Line Defenders condemns the charges against Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, which it believes are directly related to her peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights.  Front Line Defenders sees this as part of a pattern of ongoing judicial harassment using Article 88 of the Penal Code against human rights defenders who have highlighted abuses in Vietnam.
 

24 May 2017
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s mother and children harassed and confined to her home

On 20 May 2017, more than fifty police officers in both plainclothes and uniforms surrounded Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s home in Nha Trang, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam, placing the human rights defender’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, as well as her two children under de facto house arrest.  A smaller number of police officers returned on 22 and 23 May to prevent the defender’s mother and children from exiting the house. On 24 May, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan was finally allowed to go to the market but remains under police surveillance. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh has been in police custody since 10 October 2016, having been charged with ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’ for peacefully exercising her right to free expression.

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 20 May 2017, the human rights defender’s home in Nha Trang was surrounded by over fifty  policemen in both plainclothes and uniforms. The entire alley leading to her home was blocked and the building was kept under siege by the police. Officers returned the following days, placing Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, as well as her two children,  under de facto house arrest. The police officers, who are reportedly composed of both security police and civil defence units, permitted the defender’s mother to leave her home on 24 May to go to a nearby market but kept her under surveillance.

Front Line Defenders believes that this act of intimidation and harassment is related to the Vietnam-US Human Rights Dialogue 2017, which was scheduled for 23 May 2017 in Hanoi city. The confinement of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s relatives seems to have been a way to intimidate them ahead of the dialogue, during which the arbitrary detention of the blogger was anticipated to be one of the topics raised by the US side during the discussion.

Blogger and human rights defender, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, was arrested on 10 October 2016 by authorities in Khanh Hoa province. She was charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code with ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’ and is being held in a detention centre in Nha Trang city.

Front Line Defenders expresses concern at this recent act of intimidation against the family of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and urges the Vietnamese authorities to immediately cease all further harassment of her relatives.

11 October 2016
Arrest of blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh

On 10 October 2016, blogger and human rights defender Ms Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested by authorities in Khanh Hoa province. She was charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code with ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’ and is being held in a detention centre in Nha Trang city.
 

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

At around 10am on 10 October, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was arrested as she accompanied the mother of a jailed man to the detention centre in which her son is being held. Following her arrest, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was brought to her residence where police carried out a search.

After the search, police officials reportedly stated that they had found in her possession two sets of ‘anti-government material’. The first was a cardboard sign calling for the prosecution of the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel company, a Taiwanese-owned steel plant in Ha Tinh province which illegally discharged toxic waste into the sea off the Vietnamese coast in April 2016. This discharge of chemical waste resulted in large-scale water pollution and the deaths of millions of fish and other sea-life, seriously impacting the livelihoods of thousands of Vietnamese fishermen.

Since the environmental disaster, large numbers of Vietnamese citizens have protested on a regular basis demanding that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel be held accountable. A number of online campaigns have also been initiated. The second piece of ‘evidence’ pointing to ‘anti-government propaganda’ was Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh’s possession of an open letter, issued in the name of the Vietnamese Blogger Network, which also demanded accountability for the incident.

Police have reportedly announced that they will detain the human rights defender for four months as they carry out an investigation into her activities. If found guilty of ‘conducting anti-state propaganda’, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh could face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Front Line Defenders is concerned with the arrest and detention of the blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, which it believes is directly related to her peaceful and legitimate work in the defence of human rights.  Front Line Defenders sees this as part of a pattern of ongoing judicial harassment using Article 88 of the Penal Code against human rights defenders who have highlighted abuses in Vietnam.
 
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Vietnam to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, and drop all charges against her, as Front Line Defenders believes that she is being held solely as a result of her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, while in detention, adheres to all those conditions set out in the ‘Basic Principles for Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990’;

3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of  Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Vietnam are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment;

 

29 July 2015
Human rights defender severely beaten while temporarily detained

On 25 July 2015, police temporarily detained and beat human rights defender Ms Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh at the Loc Tho ward police station in Nha Trang. She suffered injuries and, upon leaving the police station, she was bleeding from cuts on her face.

Prior to being detained, questioned, and abused on 25 July 2015, the prominent blogger was arrested in a park in Nha Trang where she and other human rights defenders and activists planned to hold a public gathering. When the group began to meditate, plainclothes police officers arrested several participants and brought them to the police station. During the arrest, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh was hit and then dragged into a taxi.

The planned gathering was part of a countrywide one-day hunger strike to draw attention to the human rights violations committed by the government and to request the release of detained human rights defenders. Hundreds of Vietnamese human rights defenders and activists gathered in public areas in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Haiphong and other cities and provinces. Many of the participants reported acts of harassment by the police, including arrests and physical violence.

Front Line Defenders expresses its grave concern at the temporary detention and physical violence suffered by human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, as it is believed to be another attempt to silence human rights defenders in Vietnam and to impede their legitimate work for the promotion of human rights.