Imprisoned blogger’s mother self-immolates in Vietnam

Posted on July 31, 2012

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Blogger Ta Phong Tan’s mother, second from left, and family members.

New York, July 30, 2012–The mother of an imprisoned Vietnamese blogger died after setting herself on fire to protest her daughter’s detention on anti-state charges, her family has told international news outlets

Dang Thi Kim Lieng, the mother of Ta Phong Tan, set herself ablaze early Monday outside a local government office in Bac Lieu province in the Mekong Delta, the BBC reported, citing family members. She died en route to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, where her daughter is due to stand trial next week, according to the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia, citing Ta Phong Tan’s sister, Ta Minh Tu.

Tu’s brother told her that he had seen their mother’s body in the hospital, RFA reported. “I wasn’t aware of her self-immolation in front of the Bac Lieu People’s Committee. I was informed by some acquaintances and later by the police,” Tu told RFA.

Ta Phong Tan was arrested in September 2011 and charged with anti-government propaganda in April, according to CPJ research. The former police officer had documented social injustice on her blog, Conglysuthat (Justice and Truth). If found guilty, Ta Phong Tan faces up to 20 years in prison, news reports said.

“We are deeply sorry to learn of the tragic death of Ta Phong Tan’s mother, Dang Thi Kim Lieng, and send our condolences to the family,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “This serves as a shocking reminder that Vietnam’s campaign against bloggers and journalists exacts an unbearable emotional toll on the individuals involved.”

Vietnamese blogger’s mother sets herself on fire as daughter faces trial

Tan Phong Tan, in an image released by the dissident blog Dalambao, which is based outside Vietnam. Photograph: Danlambao/AFP/Getty Images

The mother of a prominent Vietnamese blogger has died after setting herself on fire as her daughter prepares to go on trial next week.

A police officer in the southern province of Bac Lieu said Dang Thi Kim Lieng, 64, died on Monday afternoon on the way to hospital in Ho Chi Minh City after setting herself alight that morning near her home.

Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said Lieng’s death “points to some very, very serious concerns about the kind of harassment” that relatives of dissidents face in Vietnam.

Her daughter, Ta Phong Tan, is a former police officer who wrote Cong Ly va Su That (Justice and Truth), a blog that addressed social justice issues. She was arrested last September on charges of conducting propaganda against the state.

Lawyer Ha Huy Son said Tan and two other bloggers were scheduled to be put on trial in August. All three belong to the outlawed Free Vietnamese Journalists’ Club, and stand accused of posting and writing hundreds of articles that “distorted and opposed” the communist government.

If convicted, the three face up to 20 years in prison.

The other bloggers are Nguyen Van Hai, known as Dieu Cay, and Phan Thanh Hai, known as Anhbasg. They were arrested in 2008 and 2010 on the same charges as Tan, and also stand accused of attending a nonviolence training course supposedly aimed at overthrowing the government.

Although Nguyen Van Hai finished a 30-month sentence for tax evasion in October 2010, he has not been released.

On a visit to Hanoi this month, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, mentioned the Free Vietnamese Journalists’ Club, while saying she remained concerned about a lack of online freedom and the jailing of Vietnamese journalists, bloggers, lawyers and dissidents for peaceful expression in the one-party state.

The Guardian

Mother of Vietnamese blogger ‘burns herself to death’

The mother of a prominent Vietnamese blogger has died from her injuries after setting herself on fire in front of government offices, her family says.

She was protesting against the detention of her daughter, Ta Phong Tan, who is facing charges of anti-state propaganda, another daughter told the BBC’s Vietnamese service.

Dang Thi Kim Lieng set herself alight in southern Bac Lieu province.

Her daughter faces trial in August and could be jailed for 20 years.

Dang Thi Kim Lieng went alone, without telling anyone, to the local government building in Bac Lieu, the second daughter told the BBC.

Ex-policewoman

The police have made no comment, but activists and lawyers said that Mrs Dang died while being taken by police to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

She was said to be extremely worried about the fate of her daughter, who she had not seen since her arrest last September.

Ta Phong Tan was arrested by the authorities with other bloggers, who are also accused of subversive activities in a state that controls the media and has little tolerance for criticism.

She is a former policewoman who built up a following with her reports on police abuses and injustices in the legal system.

The police newspaper denounced her writings as toxic and she was charged with distorting the truth and denigrating the Communist party and state.

Ta Phong Tan had posted a large number of articles on the “Free Journalists’ Club”, a banned website that has been a focus of the government crackdown on its internet critics.

She denied all the charges against her and has remained in detention since her arrest.

She was due to stand trial alongside another famous blogger, Phan Thanh Hai, who wrote about various sensitive issues, including a dispute with China over maritime boundaries, alleged corruption and case studies of famous dissidents.

Human Rights Watch has accused the Vietnamese government of stepping up its repression of dissidents over the past year and of jailing dozens of peaceful activists.

It said Mrs Dang’s apparent suicide looked like an act of desperation to show the authorities what they were doing to the families of dissidents.

BBC

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