The 10-year-old daughter of Vietnamese dissident blogger "Mother Mushroom" has written a letter calling on the US First Lady to push for her mother's release from prison ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to the communist nation next month.
The 10-year-old daughter of Vietnamese dissident blogger “Mother Mushroom” has written a letter calling on the US First Lady to push for her mother’s release from prison ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to the communist nation next month. The girl’s mother, whose real name is Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, is among more than two dozen Vietnamese who have been jailed as part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent over the past year. Analysts say the authoritarian regime has been emboldened by the rise of Trump, who is seen as taking a softer approach on human rights. The handwritten letter by Nguyen Bao Nguyen, whose nickname “Mushroom” is the root of her mother’s pen name, comes ahead of the American president’s first official visit to Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November. “Please help my family re-unite because I know my mother did nothing wrong,” 10-year-old Nguyen Bao Nguyen wrote in the note posted on her grandmother Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan’s Facebook page on Thursday.
Lan said it is the fourth letter the girl has penned to the First Lady, who bestowed Quynh with a “Woman of Courage Award” in March. The move riled Hanoi, who said it was “not appropriate and of no benefit for the development of relations between the two countries”. “I told my granddaughter that Mrs. Trump is very busy, her assistant might read the letter, so we can only hope,” Lan told AFP. Quynh was handed a 10-year prison sentence in June on charges of spreading anti-state propaganda through Facebook posts that touched on politics and environmental issues.
The 37-year-old is one of Vietnam’s most vocal critics, penning regular blog posts on the authoritarian country’s human rights record, deaths in police custody and the handling of a toxic leak that killed tonnes of fish last year. The United States, Britain and the European Union have all called for her release. Trump’s first visit as President to the Southeast Asian country will take him to the APEC summit in Da Nang and onwards to Hanoi for meetings with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and other senior leaders.
It is part of a wider Asia tour which will see the American leader visit Japan, South Korea, China and the Philippines. Human Rights Watch, which says at least 28 people have been arrested on dubious charges over the past year, and has called foreign governments to put pressure on Vietnam’s dismal rights record at the APEC meeting.