Vietnamese Blogger Mother Mushroom Moved From Cell, Still Refuses Food

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Huynh is in poor health and 'getting thinner,' her mother says.

Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is shown in court in Nha Trang on Nov. 30, 2017.

Jailed Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as Mother Mushroom, is continuing to refuse food despite being transferred to a new cell, a key demand in a hunger strike she launched a week ago, her mother says.

Though she is now safe from a hostile and threatening cellmate in her former cell, she has no privacy in her new location, Quynh’s mother Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Thursday.

“The cell is not adequately walled, and even the toilet can be seen from outside,” Lan said after visiting her daughter in prison.

“She is still badly treated by the guards,” said Lan, adding that Quynh is in poor health and “getting thinner.”

Lan said she had urged Quynh during her visit to give up her strike, adding that friends and supporters outside the jail are also urging her to eat, but her daughter had vowed to continue to refuse food.

“She urged us to respect her decision,” Lan said.

Lan said that she was able to leave her daughter with a new set of clothes and a book of English grammar, but that a bible she had hoped to leave was given back by authorities at the jail.

Now serving a 10-year prison term following her June 2017 conviction on charges of spreading “propaganda against the state” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, Quynh had blogged about human rights abuses and official corruption for more than a decade.

She had also criticized the government’s response to a 2016 toxic waste spill by the Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group that destroyed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Vietnamese living in four coastal provinces.

Authorities have long targeted activist writers and bloggers in an ongoing crackdown in one-party Communist Vietnam, where dissent is not allowed.

Rights group Amnesty International estimates that at least 97 prisoners of conscience are currently held in Vietnam’s prisons, where many are subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

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