Me Nam reunited with her family at the airport (photo courtesy of Dan Lam Bao)
PEN International welcomes the release of blogger and government critic Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known by her pen name Me Nâm (‘Mother Mushroom’), on 17 October 2018. Me Nam had been serving a 10-year prison sentence for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam” under Article 88 of the Penal Code when she was reportedly taken directly to Ha Noi International Airport and put on a plane bound for the USA. The remainder of her 10-year prison sentence has reportedly been suspended. She is now starting a new life in Texas, USA, with her mother and two young children. PEN International believes that Me Nam was targeted for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression and is deeply disappointed that she has been forced into exile. PEN continues to call for the release of all other writers and journalists still held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Please send appeals:
- Welcoming the release of blogger and government critic Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh on 17 October 2018, but deploring that her release was conditional on her forced exile and a suspended prison sentence;
- Calling on the Vietnamese authorities to allow Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to return freely to Viet Nam;
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers and activists imprisoned or detained for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression in accordance with Article 19 of the ICCPR, to which Viet Nam is state party.
His Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong
President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
Hung Vuong street
Ba Dinh district
Mr Nguyen Xuan Phuc
1 Hoang Hoa Tham street
Ba Dinh district
Fax: +84 80 44130/ +84 80 44940
Mr Pham Binh Minh
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam street
Ba Dinh district
Fax: +844 3823 1872
Please ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case. For some Vietnamese embassies in the world:
***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 22 November 2018.***
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, popularly known by her pen name Me Nâm (Mother Mushroom), is known for her online writings in which she has shared her opinions on social, economic, political, environmental and human rights issues via social media. In 2013, she co-founded the Vietnamese Bloggers Network, banned in Viet Nam. Me Nam has also organised and participated in advocacy around government transparency, state accountability and environmental protection. Me Nam has faced consistent harassment at the hands of the Vietnamese authorities as a result of her work since 2009; such harassment has included detentions (see RAN 49/09), travel bans, physical assaults and threats. She is the recipient of the 2010 Hellman/Hammett Award, the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year award, the 2017 International Woman of Courage Award, awarded by the U.S. State Department, and the 2018 International Press Freedom Award.
Arrested while visiting an imprisoned political activist on 10 October 2016, Me Nâm was subsequently convicted of ‘conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam’ under Article 88 of the Penal Code by the Khanh Hoa province People’s Court on 29 June 2017, and sentenced to 10 years in prison (for more information see previous updates). In February 2018, she was reportedly transferred to a new camp 1,200 kilometres away from the city where her two children lived.
Me Nâm was released unexpectedly on 17 October 2018 and then reportedly taken directly to Ha Noi International Airport and put on a plane bound for the USA; the remainder of her 10-year prison sentence has reportedly been suspended. She is now starting a new life in Texas, with her mother and two young children.
The practice of releasing dissidents into exile is all too common in Viet Nam. In June 2018, journalist, blogger and human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and fellow Brotherhood for Democracy activist Le Thu Ha were released into exile in Germany having served two months of a 15-year sentence. This was in addition to the 28 months Nguyen Van Dai had spent in detention following his arrest in December 2015 for “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under article 79 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code.
For further information please contact Emma Wadsworth-Jones at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: firstname.lastname@example.org