CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 24 August 2019

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Vietnam sends rights advocate into exile

HANOI (UCAN): Vietnam has freed Mary Magdelene Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a well-known Catholic blogger and rights advocate, who was jailed two years ago for posting anti-government material on social media and forced her into exile in the United States of America (US).
 
Nguyen, also known as Mother Mushroom, was driven from Prison Camp No.5 in Vietnam’s northern province of Thanh Hoa to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on October 17, the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers group reported.
 
“Security officers only allowed Nguyen to speak to officials from the US embassy in Hanoi at the airport for five minutes before putting her on a flight at noon,” the group said in a statement.
 
Nguyen met her two children and mother, Nguyen Tuyet Lan, on the plane, which arrived in Houston the same day.
 
“Nguyen was freed after two years and seven days in jail in Vietnam. A new stage in the life of a woman who fights tirelessly for human rights, national sovereignty and environmental protection will begin,” the network said.
 
Nguyen, one of the co-founders of the network, was serving a 10-year prison sentence for publishing anti-government material and speaking out in support of political prisoners.
 
The Network of Vietnamese Bloggers said the 39-year-old mother of two would continue her fight for human rights and democracy in Vietnam from the US.
 
“No one can defeat her will and dedication,” its statement said.  
 
A lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, head of the Vietnam-based Brotherhood for Democracy, congratulated the rights advocate on being freed and arriving in the US. 
 
The former political prisoner, who was sent into exile in Germany in June, said he hopes Nguyen would continue her fight for freedom, democracy and human rights in Vietnam.
 
Another former prisoner of conscience, Bui Thi Minh Hang, called on activists and the international community to pressure Vietnam into freeing jailed rights activist Tran Thi Nga, who she said was suffering from ill-treatment by inmates and officials at Gia Trung prison camp in Gia Lai province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
 
Tran, a mother of two, is serving a nine-year prison term for spreading “anti-government propaganda.” 
 
“She has not seen her children or other family for the past three months,” Bui said.

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