Vietnam has again been criticised over its treatment of a Catholic blogger.
Mary Magdalene Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 37, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after a one-day trial on 29 June for posting what police described as anti-state reports, including one about civilians dying in police custody, reports Reuters.
The trial came less than a week since Vietnam expelled to France Catholic activist Peter Pham Minh Hoang after revoking his citizenship for “undermining national security”.
Quynh, known as “Me Nam” (Mother Mushroom), was, like Hoang, a member of the US-based activist group Viet Tan, which had funded one of her environmental campaigns. Her blogging had won her several international honours, including the 2017 International Women of Courage award.
Quynh’s lawyer, Le Cong Dinh, a fellow Catholic, said: “I am really surprised by the 10-year sentence that shows the government’s inhumanity to a single young mother. I did not realise what a state of panic the ruling party is in.”
Speaking in court, Quynh said: “Every person has only one life. But if I had to replay my life, I would still have done the same thing. I believe my mother and children will never feel sorry for me but be proud of me.
“I want to build a good society. People can only be happy and free when they enjoy freedom of speech and expression. I hope people will continue the struggle and overcome their fears to build a better country.”
Meanwhile, a Catholic priest known for his human rights work has been barred from leaving the country, reports UCAN.
Father John Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong, 47, was arrested at a Hanoi airport on 27 June on his way to Australia on a study trip.
Catholic blogger John Baptist Nguyen Huu Vinh said on Facebook that Father Phong is well known for fighting for justice, truth and helping people who fall foul of the communist government.
“He struggles for religious freedom among people in [the] north-west provinces and gives them opportunities to escape poverty,” he said.