Mother Mushroom

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Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh IWOC.png
Born 1979
Khánh Hòa, Vietnam
Occupation blogger, political activist
Organization Network of Vietnamese Bloggers
Known for human rights activism
Awards Hellman-Hammett award 2010[1]
Civil Rights Defender of the Year (2015)[2]

Mother Mushroom (born 1979 in Khánh Hòa, Vietnam) is the pen name of the Vietnamese blogger and dissident, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh.[3] Mushroom or Nấm in Vietnamese is the name of her daughter. She first used the pen name in her popular blog ''Mẹ Nấm'.

After having her first child, nicknamed “Nấm” (mushroom), Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh joined several parenting fora using Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom) as her pen name, primarily to exchange parenting tips with others. Later on, her blogs developed to cover social issues. She started blogging in 2006 after a visit to a hospital where she witnessed many poor, desperate patients waiting to be seen but ignored as they did not have enough money to bribe hospital officials.

Quỳnh says her motive for blogging is very simple: “I don’t want my children to struggle and have to do what I’m doing right now.”

Blogging and arrests[edit]

Quỳnh has been blogging under the pseudonym of Mẹ Nấm (Mother Mushroom) and has openly criticised the Vietnamese government over its human rights violations and corruption. She began blogging in early 2006 when she visited a hospital and witnessed many poor people in the hot sun desperately waiting for treatment, but ignored because they lacked money to bribe hospital officials.[2]

Quynh was first arrested in 2009 for blogging about government land confiscations related to a Chinese-backed bauxite mine and for printing T-shirts opposing the bauxite project. She was released nine days later, after she promised to close the blog.[4][5]

2016 arrest[edit]

On 10 October 2016, Mother Mushroom was arrested while trying to visit an imprisoned political activist.[6] The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that she was arrested in Khanh Hoa and charged with crimes under Article 88 of Vietnam's Penal Code, which prohibits "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam."[7]


The United States, the European Union and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights demanded Mother Mushroom's release and stated that the government's arrest of her violated international human rights norms, as well as Vietnam's domestic laws on human rights.[3][8] Ted Osius, the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam said he was "deeply concerned" about the Vietnamese government's detention of activists and stated: "This trend threatens to overshadow Vietnam's progress on human rights."[8]

Bärbel Kofler, the Human Rights Commissioner for the German Federal Government, issued a statement on 11 October on the arrest: “... this would be another serious violation of the human rights principles and international rules that Viet Nam has made a commitment to uphold." [9]

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a news release: "Article 88 effectively makes it a crime for any Vietnamese citizen to enjoy the fundamental freedom to express an opinion, to discuss or to question the Government and its policies. The overly broad, ill-defined scope of this law makes it all too easy to quash any kind of dissenting views and to arbitrarily detain individuals who dare to criticize Government policies."[7]

On 29 June 2017, she was sentenced to 10 years of jail by a court in Khánh Hòa Province after being found guilty of publishing propaganda against the state.[10][1]


  • Human Rights Watch, Hellman/Hammett grant program recipient (2010)[11]
  • Civil Rights Defenders, Defender of the Year (2015)[2] Speak with RFA's Vietnamese Service after she won the award, she said: "I still wish I did not have to receive such awards, because I live in an authoritarian country and I got the awards for fighting efforts." [12]


  1. ^ Việt Nam: Các Nhà văn được Vinh danh vì Dấn thân cho Tự do Ngôn luận, HRW, 4.08.2010
  2. ^ a b c "Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2015 – Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh". Civil Rights Defenders. 2016-10-11. 
  3. ^ a b Mike Ives (October 12, 2016). "Vietnam Arrests Mother Mushroom, a Top Blogger, for Criticizing Government". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Alyssa Strickland & Bita Eghbali, Vietnam's 'mother-mushroom' blogger fears arrest, Global Journalist, Missouri School of Journalism (November 10, 2014).
  5. ^ "Blogger 'Mẹ Nấm' được trả tự do". BBC. Retrieved October 10, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Prominent blogger 'Mother Mushroom' detained in Vietnam". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2016-10-11. 
  7. ^ a b UN Human Rights Chief urges Viet Nam to halt crackdown on bloggers and rights defenders (press release), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (October 14, 2016).
  8. ^ a b Divya Kishore (October 12, 2016). "US and EU ask Vietnam to free prominent blogger Mother Mushroom arrested for criticising government". International Business Times. 
  9. ^ "Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler on the arrest of popular Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh". German Federal Foreign Office. 2016-10-11. 
  10. ^ "'Mother Mushroom': Top Vietnamese blogger jailed for 10 years". BBC News. 29 June 2017. 
  11. ^ Việt Nam: Các Nhà văn được Vinh danh vì Dấn thân cho Tự do Ngôn luận, Human Rights Watch (August 4, 2010).
  12. ^ "Civil Rights Defender of the Year 2015 – Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh". Radio Free Asia. 2015-04-14.