Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today issued the following statement on the release and exile of Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents, by the Vietnamese government. Known throughout Vietnam as “Mother Mushroom,” Quynh is a blogger and environmental activist and was serving a 10-year sentence for what authorities called anti-state propaganda.
“Mother Mushroom is an incredibly brave activist and I am pleased to hear that she has been released from prison and is on her way to the United States. The international community has recognized her struggle for the rights of the Vietnamese people and last year she received an International Women of Courage award from the United States. Mother Mushroom’s writing has shed a light on corruption, the environmental impact of the Formosa chemical spill, and the human rights abuses of the Vietnamese government. For these acts of courage, she was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “anti-state propaganda.” Despite her release, the cost to her, and her family, has been high—exile from her homeland. Her exile also highlights that the Vietnamese government refuses to acknowledge the rights of its citizens and will tolerate no dissent—a fact borne out by the more than 100 political prisoners still languishing in Vietnamese jails. Vietnam must recognize that its relationship with the United States depends on improving its record on human rights. Standing up for the people of Vietnam, protesting corruption, and criticizing government misdeeds is not anti-state propaganda—it is patriotism pure and simple.”