Campaign for Nobel Peace Prize

Quynh was sentenced to ten years in prison for conducting “propaganda against the state”

The blogger, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize a year after she was sentenced to ten years in prison for criticising the government.

A history professor from Canada, Dr Marc Arnal, submitted her name to the Nobel committee, citing her bravery in the face of government repression.

“I have a positive feeling that our world is a better place because of the bravery of Mother Mushroom,” he wrote, using the name she wrote under during her decade as an independent blogger.

She became well known in Vietnam for highlighting human rights abuses and for urging the government to stand up to China in the South China Sea.

She was arrested in 2016 after taking up the cause of fishermen whose livelihoods were damaged by a toxic leak from the Formosa steel plant on the central coast.

She was convicted and sentenced the following year after a brief trial.

The veteran Canadian human rights campaigner and former member of parliament, David Kilgour, threw his weight behind the nomination.

He said that Quynh had been determined to fight for a better society, where her compatriots were denied the fundamental freedoms of thinking, writing and talking without fear.

Quynh was a founding member of the Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network and, despite harassment from the authorities, was able to express her views on the internet until she fell victim to a new crackdown on dissent launched in 2016.

She is currently being held at a prison in Thanh Hoa province more than a thousand kilometres from her home in Nha Trang.

After a recent visit her mother said that she was thin and weak after refusing food from the prison authorities for a number of days to protest against conditions.

Quynh has two small children who were only allowed to talk to their mother for about an hour through a glass window.

She was name as an international woman of courage by the US state department last year and has received a number of other accolades from foreign governments and human rights organisations.

The peace prize committee normally receives more than a hundred nominations for the Nobel Prize, so her supporters are launching a campaign to raise Quynh’s profile and alert the panel to the suppression of free speech in Vietnam.