A Vietnamese blogger who goes by “Mother Mushroom” on social media was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “anti-state propaganda” Thursday, according to state media.
The blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, frequently criticized the government on an array of issues including police brutality, land confiscation, and free speech rights. She regularly asked in her posts, “Who will speak if you don’t?”
The Vietnamese Communist Party is the ruling party and was founded in 1930 by Ho Chi Minh. Like other communist regimes, citizens have free expression rights by law but are not allowed to actually exercise their freedoms due to heavy government surveillance and censorship.
Nguyen attracted the government’s attention in 2009 when she criticized China’s funding of a bauxite mine in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. She was jailed for 10 days for “abuse of democratic freedoms and infringing on the national benefit,” according to CNN. She was released only after she wrote a public letter of apology on her site and agreed to stop blogging.
Months later, however, the government was still keeping tabs on her and denied her a passport when she attempted to travel.
She resumed blogging and was arrested in October, 2016 for being an “anti-state instigator,” according to Vietnam News, a state-run agency. Her Facebook posts and foreign media interviews deemed “anti-state” by the country’s authorities, inspired her arrest according to the Mirror.
“The trend of increased arrests and convictions of peaceful protests since early 2016 is deeply troubling,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, according to CNN. “The Vietnamese government uses vague national security laws to silence activists and throttle free speech,” added Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
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