Vietnam Blogger ‘Mother Mushroom’ Fears Death in Prison

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh cites hostile cellmates, 'mental torture,' her mother says.

Jailed Vietnamese blogger Mother Mushroom is shown at her trial in Nha Trang, June 29, 2017.

Jailed Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known also as “Mother Mushroom,” now fears she may die in prison, citing hostile cellmates and poor living conditions, her mother says.

Quynh, who had published a blog under the name Me Nam or Mother Mushroom, was arrested on Oct. 10, 2016 and was sentenced in June 2017 to a decade in jail on charges of spreading “propaganda against the state” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Wednesday, Quynh’s mother Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan said that her daughter says she can no longer endure what she described as the mental torture of her life each day behind bars.

“Before, when I was held at the Khanh Hoa detention center, they locked me up for two months in a room without adequate ventilation, but I was able to endure that,” Quynh said according to Lan, who visited her on June 27 at Prison No. 5 in Thanh Hoa province’s Yen Dinh district.

“But here, I can’t bear things anymore,” Quynh said.

“I am now held in a cell with three other people, and one of them is always cursing me with the worst words I have ever heard,” she said. “She is so cruel that I cannot deal with her.”

Guards have turned down Quynh’s requests to be moved to another cell, calling the abuse a case of “common quarrels,” Lan said, adding that her daughter has asked her now to visit her once a month to make sure she is still alive.

“She looked very tired when I saw her this time,” Lan said.

Summoned, harassed


Vietnamese authorities have meanwhile ramped up their harassment of other dissidents and their families, summoning the wife of one prisoner to answer for her contacts with foreign media sources, the woman told RFA.

Nguyen Thi Lanh, wife of Nguyen Trung Ton, a jailed member of the online Brotherhood For Democracy advocacy group, said she had been called by police on June 26 to explain why she had given interviews to a “foreign radio station.”

“I called the police and told them I would not cooperate with them, as I had not broken any law,” Lanh told RFA on Wednesday. “And I said I had agreed to interviews because I view authorities’ treatment of my husband as unjustifiable.”

Plainclothes security officers, sometimes three, sometimes four, now follow her closely even when she shops or takes her child to school and disrupt her family’s daily life, Lanh said.

Meanwhile, a former political prisoner living in Vietnam’s coastal Lam Dong province reported a failed fire-bomb attack on June 26 against her rental home by unidentified assailants who later assaulted two of her friends.

Speaking by phone with RFA, Do Thi Minh Hanh, who was released in June 2014 after serving four years of a seven-year sentence for distributing leaflets to workers, said that she and her father heard motorbikes passing by their house in Di Linh district at about 11:00 p.m.

Her father shone a flashlight at the bikers, one of whom then threw an object into their gate, Hanh said.

“I went outside and saw a container with liquid running out of it, and saw that it was a Molotov cocktail,” Hanh said, adding, “Luckily, it didn’t work.”

Two friends later came by to livestream a video account of what had happened, and were assaulted and beaten by unknown attackers after they left her house, Hanh said.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.