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.”