Detained Vietnamese Prominent Blogger Yet to Have Legal Assistance
Defend the Defenders
October 27, 2016
Defend the Defenders: Prominent Vietnamese blogger and well-known human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh has not been allowed to meet with her lawyers weeks after her arrest on October 10, said her mother Mrs. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan.
On October 25, police in the central province of Khanh Hoa told Mrs. Lan that her daughter had not been able to receive legal assistance since the police have not completed her dossier.
Mrs. Lan said she is very concerned about Quynh’s health. Before being taken away by the police, Quynh told her mother that she would conduct hunger strike and say nothing in police custody until she meets her lawyers.
“My daughter Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh would have been deemed innocent if it were in a free nation. For her advocacy for human rights, environmental protection and helping others who were imprisoned wrongly, she was arrested, leaving behind two children aged four and 10, who miss their mother every day,” Mrs. Lan said.
Meanwhile, nearly a thousand of activists in the country and abroad have signed a joint petition calling for immediate and unconditional release of Quynh who was honored with the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award by the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders.
In their petition initiated by the Vietnam Bloggers Network, they said Quynh is innocent and her peaceful activities are absolutely lawful, adding protecting the environment, protecting human lives and defending maritime sovereignty are the right things to do that must not be deemed criminal activities.
Ms. Quynh is well-known blogger writing under the penname Me Nam (Mother Mushroom). She is also known for activities promoting human rights. She is one of the leading figures of the unsanctioned Vietnam Bloggers Network which fights for freedom of press in the country.
She has been subjected to constant persecution at the hands of Vietnam’s police for years, including being banned from international travel.
Many foreign governments, including the U.S., the UK, Germany and the EU as well as international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Border, Amnesty International and Civil Rights Defenders have condemned Quynh’s arrest and requested Vietnam to release her unconditionally and immediately.
Vietnam has intensified its crackdown on local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders. In addition to sentencing many activists, the communist government has launched a wave to violent assaults against many others.
In the most recent case, police in the southern city of Vung Tau on October 8 detained over two dozens of activists who attended a workshop on civil society. Police confiscated their cell phones and cameras and interrogated them. During questioning, they brutally beat many activists, including Ms. Nguyen Thuy Quynh and Mr. Le Cong Dinh.
Vietnam has used controversial articles such as 79, 88 and 258 in the Penal Code to silence local dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders. So far this year, it has imprisoned 18 activists on allegation of anti-state activities.
Last month, Amnesty International has urged Vietnam to release 82 prisoners of conscience, including human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, who was arrested on December 16 last year and charged with anti-state propaganda under Article 88.
According to Human Rights Watch, Vietnam holds around 130 political prisoners.