Honored Vietnamese Activist Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison


29 June, 2017

A Vietnamese blogger, honored by the United States for her activism, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Vietnam.

Mẹ Nấm, or Mother Mushroom, received the sentence Thursday at the end of a one-day trial in central Vietnam. A court found her guilty of charges related to "conducting propaganda" against the government.

Mother Mushroom, whose given name is Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, had been detained since October 2016. The law used against her has drawn international criticism for giving the government power to limit free expression.

Her lawyer said her conviction related to several articles on her Facebook page, as well as interviews with foreign news organizations. The lawyer called the sentence "too heavy and unfair." He said he planned to appeal the decision.

Quynh began blogging as Mother Mushroom in 2006. She is also a founding member of the Vietnamese Bloggers Network. It is one of the few independent blogging groups in a nation where the ruling Communist Party tightly controls the media and writers.

She was honored with America's International Women of Courage Award in March. She was not able to attend the award ceremony in Washington led by first lady Melania Trump.

A State Department spokeswoman praised Quynh for "exposing corruption, raising awareness about environmental protection and reporting on human rights violations in Vietnam."

Quynh also received awards from the organizations Civil Rights Defenders and Human Rights Watch for speaking out freely against injustices and human rights abuses in Vietnam.

The deputy director for Human Rights Watch Asia, Phil Robertson, criticized the trial. He urged the international community to call for her release. He said, "International donors and trade partners should publicly condemn her arrest and urge the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally release her."

Mother Mushroom blogged about the Vietnamese government's handling of a chemical spill at Formosa, a Taiwanese-owned steel plant in central Vietnam.
Mother Mushroom blogged about the Vietnamese government's handling of a chemical spill at Formosa, a Taiwanese-owned steel plant in central Vietnam.

Among her recent campaigns, Mother Mushroom blogged about the government's handling of a chemical spill at Formosa, a Taiwanese-owned steel plant in central Vietnam. The spill killed 80 tons of fish and embarrassed the Vietnamese government.

Thousands of protesters demonstrated at the plant and in cities throughout Vietnam. The April 2016 incident is widely seen as having raised environmental awareness and activism in Vietnam.

The movement led the steel company to accept full responsibility for the fish kill. It also pledged to pay $500 million in damages for dumping toxic wastewater into the South China Sea.

I'm Caty Weaver .

Bryan Lynn adapted this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports by VOA Vietnamese, the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

blogger n. person who writes on the internet about experiences or issues

conductv. to carry out

conviction n. a finding of guilt by a court of law

interview n. a meeting between a reporter and another person in order to get information for a news story

exposeadj. cause to be known, especially something secret or dishonest

awarenessn. the state of knowing about something

plant n. a factory

embarrassv. make someone look foolish

toxic adj. containing something poisonous