Vietnamese Dissident Mother Mushroom En Route to US After Release

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 18, 2018

"Mother Mushroom departed Vietnam today for the United States", one source told Reuters.

The agency said she would join her children and mother in the United States.

Ngoc Nhu Quynh is known for her writing on deaths in police custody, environment and politics.

"We will continue to call on the government of Vietnam to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience", the embassy spokeswoman Karen Tang said.

"My mother is a good person and she always wants to protect other people", Nam told the ABC a year ago.

A dissident Vietnamese blogger known by the pen name "Mother Mushroom" was on her way to the United States Wednesday (Oct 17) after being released from prison where she was serving 10 years for anti-state propaganda, multiple sources said.

Her unexpected release after two years behind bars came as the USA defence secretary, General James Mattis, visited Vietnam as part of an effort to warm ties between the former foes, both eager to counter China's rising influence in Asia.

It is rare but not unheard of for political prisoners to be released early from jail in Vietnam, a one-party state whose conservative leadership has waged a brutal crackdown on critics over the past two years, drawing ire from Western allies and rights groups.

Officials did not give an official reason for relocating her.

The U.S. State Department said it welcomed the decision by Vietnam to release Quynh.

But she stressed there were scores more jailed in Vietnam without as high a profile.

"I went to the house of Mother Mushroom's uncle and saw a photo of Quynh being led inside an airplane", the neighbor said.

She was among 13 women to receive an International Women of Courage Award past year from the U.S. State Department.

But Donald Trump's administration has come under fire for not doing enough to protect human rights, especially in Vietnam.

Trump's predecessor Barack Obama met with several civil society activists and journalists when he visited Vietnam in 2016.

"We need to speak up for the people who are in jail right now - if one or two people get out, it doesn't mean that it's a good thing ... we need to get the rest out because they are not criminals".

More than 55 bloggers, protesters and Facebookers have been jailed this year alone, with the length and frequency of sentences steadily rising.

One of those dissidents, Nguyen Van Dai was secretly released in June and put on a plane with his assistant to Germany.

She also co-founded the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers, an independent writers' association.

In another indication that Vietnam is not likely to let up its punishment of critics, the activist Le Dinh Luong had his 20-year sentence upheld in an appeal trial on Thursday in Nghe An province.

Vietnam has released other high-profile dissidents in the past, usually in cooperation with foreign governments, and they are nearly always sent overseas with the understanding that they are not welcome back.

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