The Vietnamese dissident known as “Mother Mushroom” has arrived in the United States after her release from prison.
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, one of Vietnam’s most famous dissidents, landed in Houston, Texas late on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, she was released from a Vietnamese prison where she had been serving a 10-year sentence for anti-state propaganda. She was jailed in the northern province of Thanh Hoa.
Quynh was reunited with her two children on the flight from Vietnam. She told VOA, “Although I was prepared to meet my family, I was still shocked when my son and daughter hugged me on the plane. We have been waiting for more than two years for this.”
She added that Vietnamese officials had kept her from having any contact with her son and daughter until the last minute.
A small group of relatives and supporters greeted Quynh on her arrival in Houston after the 11-hour long flight. She told a cheering crowd, “I will not be silent.”
She added, "the reunion sends a message to those who have imprisoned me that I am not alone and the voice of freedom is never lost.”
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh is a blogger and environmental activist. She was among 13 women to receive an International Women of Courage Award last year from the U.S. State Department. President Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, presented the awards at a ceremony in Washington.
Mother Mushroom was arrested for publishing what police described as anti-state reports on the internet. One message talked about civilians dying while under police control.
She was sentenced last year in a government campaign against dissidents. It began in 2016 when more conservative leaders gained top Communist party positions.
Quynh is the second dissident released this year. Vietnam freed human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai in June. He went to Germany.
Nicholas Bequelin is with the rights group Amnesty International. He says Vietnam is requiring dissidents to promise to leave the country in order to get out of prison.
"While Mother Mushroom is no longer imprisoned, the condition for her release was exile," he said. He added that more than 100 people remain in Vietnamese jails because they peacefully expressed their opinions, in public, on blogs and on social media.
I'm Dorothy Gundy.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English with additional material from Caty Waever and the Reuters news service. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
greet - v. to meet (someone who has just arrived) with usually friendly and polite words and actions
reunion - n. an act of getting people together again after they have been apart
hug - v. to put your arms around someone as a way of showing love or friendship
blogger - n. someone who writes and posts regularly on a webpage called a blog