Top Vietnamese Blogger Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia 

HANOI, Vietnam – Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, one of Vietnam’s top bloggers, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of distributing propaganda against the government. Otherwise known as “Mother Mushroom,” Ms. Quynh is an activist raising awareness of social injustice and environmental issues in Vietnam. She first started the blog in 2006 and is known for her famous tagline, “Who will speak if you don’t?”

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, one of Vietnam’s top bloggers, was charged with distributing propaganda against the government. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Ms. Quynh was arrest in October when she visited a fellow activist in prison. Since her arrest, Ms. Quynh has not been allowed to meet any visitors. Her attorney, who she was only allowed to meet nine days before the trial, stated that the sentence was “too heavy and unfair for the accused.”

In 2009, she was arrested for 10 days for “abuse of democracy and infringing on the national benefit.” The Vietnamese government ordered Ms. Quynh to give up blogging and post a letter on the site explaining her love for the country. Upon her release, she blogged again two months later.

The United States government recently called on Vietnam to release Ms. Quynh. Furthermore, Human Rights Watch asked Vietnam to drop all charges against her.

Ms. Quynh has received numerous awards, including the Sweden-based Civil Rights Defenders award. Moreover, the U.S. State Department has also awarded the International Women of Courage Award early this year.

Since her arrest, around 1,000 activist, bloggers, and lawyers signed a petition demanding her release.

It is reported that the arrest of activists in Vietnam is not unusual. In fact, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch stated that the “Vietnamese government uses vague national security laws to silence activists and throttle free speech.”

In Vietnam, the internet has been the main forum for the country’s growing number of dissenting voices. Due to this reason, the Vietnamese government has asked social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube to censor the content.

For more information, please see: 

NYT – With Social Media, Vietnam’s Dissidents Grow Bolder Despite Crackdown – 2 July, 2017

CNN – Vietnamese blogger Mother Mushroom jailed for 10 years – 29 June, 2017

BBC – ‘Mother Mushroom’: Top Vietnamese blogger jailed for 10 years – 29 June, 2017

Cameroon Blocks Out Internet in Some Parts of the Country

By Samantha Netzband 

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter

YAOUNDE, Cameroon– Cameroon has blocked internet access in the North West and South West parts of the country.  These parts of the country have been home to anti government protests in the past few weeks.  Many feel that the blockages are unnecessary and counterproductive.

Demonstrators in Bamenda

Anti government protests in Bamenda. (Photo Courtesy of BBC Africa)

For many, the blockages are believed to target protesters, so they are not able to use social media. Some people with mobile cell phones have also received threatening text messages stating that if they post inaccurate information online they will be subject to excessive fines and even jail time.  Cell phone providers haven’t been helpful, replying to customer service complaints that there are other forms of communication available to those who have had the internet blocked.

Because the South West region of Cameroon is a major technology center in the region, some companies have been forced to relocate workers to other parts of the country in order to continue work.  While internet blockages have been common for the past 12 months, it is the blockages in the North West and South West, which are mainly English speaking, that have caused protests.  These protests have been happening since the beginning of the year and Cameroonians only become more frustrated by the lack of access.  Everyone from businesses to activists have been affected by this blackout.

For more information, please see:

BBC Africa – Why has Cameroon blocked the internet? – 8 February 2017 

Eyewitness News – Cameroon Torn By Protests Over Internet Blackout – 8 February 2017

Os News – Internet Shutdown Hits Businesses in Cameroon – 8 February 2017 

Quartz Africa – Cameroon has shut down the internet in its English-speaking regions – 23 January 2017