Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Vietnam

International Press Freedom Awards

CPJ is honored to present its 2018 International Press Freedom Award to Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh.

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, one of Vietnam's most prominent independent bloggers, is best known by her penname Me Nam or "Mother Mushroom." She was behind bars until authorities freed her in October 2018 and allowed her to depart with her family on a flight to the United States.

Quynh was arrested in 2016 and, the next year, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a one-day trial. The charges were in connection with 18 articles she posted online, including reports on an industrial toxic spill that devastated large areas of the country's coast.

Samples of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's work

She was convicted on charges of "propagandizing against the state" under Article 88 of Vietnam's penal code. CPJ research has found that authorities frequently use the law to silence dissent.

Prior to her arrest, Quynh wrote on her own blog and other online news platforms. She reported on sensitive issues censored by the state-controlled media, including official land-grabbing, environmental degradation, and police brutality. She also helped found the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, a group of independent journalists who banded together to call for press freedom.

Quynh faced frequent harassment by Vietnamese authorities prior to her arrest. Local police repeatedly called her in for questioning and temporarily detained her in connection with her online journalism. In December 2013, authorities banned her from traveling abroad.

The blogger prophetically told CPJ in 2014 that she feared she would eventually be arrested and jailed. Earlier that year, Quynh told CPJ about how she often disguised her appearance to evade officials who monitored her meetings and movements.

While Quynh was in prison, authorities refused her medical treatment, according to news reports. She was transferred to a prison facility far from her home province, making it more difficult for her family to visit. In May, she staged a week-long hunger strike to protest against poor prison conditions, according to reports citing her mother.

In late 2017, Vietnam was detaining at least 10 journalists, including Quynh, when CPJ conducted its annual prison census. All of them were imprisoned on anti-state charges.

The text of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh's acceptance speech, as prepared for delivery, is below.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Committee to Protect Journalists for selecting me as one of the recipients of the 2018 International Press Freedom Awards.

Freedom! One cannot find a more fitting symbol of freedom than the Statue of Liberty right here in this great city of New York; where I have found myself in these immortal words that were cast more than a century ago: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

I am so grateful to CPJ for helping to secure my freedom. I am also profoundly thankful to the U.S. government and this country for accepting my family into her open and compassionate arms. But even now, as I am breathing the air of freedom, I must confess that I have yet to find complete happiness. Because seeking personal freedom in another land away from Vietnam was never my goal. My dream and my struggle have always been to one day be one of 90 million free citizens of Vietnam--living lives with basic freedoms, with human rights respected and protected, fully free to engage in the process of self-determination.

My personal freedom today was secured by the tireless efforts and contributions of many friends and supporters. This newly gained freedom would only be meaningful if I use it as a voice for the oppressed back in Vietnam. So my journey for a free Vietnam shall continue, regardless of where I live.

I would also take this opportunity to ask all of you to shine the light of justice on another brave Vietnamese mother with 2 children of her own--fellow blogger Trần Thị Nga. She was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for her fight for freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam. Please support us in our endeavor to free this courageous woman. Thank you again, so much, for your recognition and support for bestowing this award upon me. Thank you everyone.

Authorities in #Vietnam should release all journalists from prison! #IPFA

Stay connected! Follow CPJ's Asia program on Twitter for updates on press freedom in Quynh's region. Click here to see CPJ's coverage of Vietnam.


CPJ's 2018 Awards

Amal Khalifa Idris Habbani, Sudan
Luz Mely Reyes, Venezuela
Anastasiya Stanko, Ukraine
Maria Ressa, Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award

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2018

Amal Khalifa Idris Habbani (Sudan), Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Vietnam), Luz Mely Reyes (Venezuela), Anastasiya Stanko (Ukraine)

2017

Ahmed Abba (Cameroon), Patricia Mayorga (Mexico), Afrah Nasser (Yemen), Pravit Rojanaphruk (Thailand)

2016

Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Shawkan (Egypt), Malini Subramaniam (India), Can Dündar (Turkey), Óscar Martínez (El Salvador)

2015

Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, “Zunar” (Malaysia)

2014

Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)

2013

Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)

2012

Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)

2011

Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)

2010

Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)

2009

Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)

2008

Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)

2007

Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)

2006

Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)

2005

Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)

2004

Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)

2003

Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)

2002

Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)

2001

Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)

2000

Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)

1999

Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Colombia)

1998

Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)

1997

Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)

1996

Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)

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