Parish in North-Central Vietnam Screens Documentary on Jailed Blogger 'Mother Mushroom'

Priest says film on the prominent political prisoner drew 1,000 from his parish in Nghe An province.

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

A banned documentary on jailed Vietnamese blogger and activist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh—also known by her blogger handle Me Nam, or Mother Mushroom—drew 1,000 people during a screening Sunday by a Catholic church in north-central Vietnam’s of Nghe An province, the parish priest said.

Quynh 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. Quynh’s is one of the more high profile cases of activists handed heavy sentences as part of an ongoing crackdown by authorities in the Southeast Asian nation.

“After the service, we showed the documentary ‘When Mother is Away’ about blogger mother mushroom,” priest Dang Huu Nam, who is in charge of the My Khanh parish in Nghe An, told RFA.

“There were more than 1000 people from My Khanh parish coming to the show,” he added.

The official response to the screening was not immediately known.

Meanwhile, Quynh’s mother Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan told RFA that she had visited her daughter on August 2 at Prison no. 5 in Thanh Hoa province.

“My daughter told me that two days before, the situation was still the same and it went beyond her suffering and there was some altercation,”

Lan said that because of the altercation, Quynh was “being disciplined” but she did not elaborate on the punishment.

Her mother confirmed that Quynh had ended ended a hunger strike following a July 23 visit by a U.S. embassy representative.

Quynh began her hunger strike on July 6, citing authorities’ refusal to transfer her to a cell away from a hostile and threatening cellmate. She then continued to refuse food despite being moved to another cell, saying her new cell lacks privacy, with even the toilet visible to guards.

Quynh had blogged about human rights abuses and corruption for more than a decade, and more recently voiced criticism over Vietnam’s policy toward China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.

She has also criticized the government’s response to a 2016 toxic waste spill by a Taiwanese firm 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 Viet Ha. Written in English by Paul Eckert.