Bangkok, 1 August – The mother of a blogger in detention has died after setting herself on fire ahead of her daughter’s trial for propaganda against the Communist state, sources close to the family said on 30 July.
Dang Thi Kim Lieng is the mother of Ta Phong Tan, a 43-year-old Catholic former policewoman, who was arrested on 5 September 2011 and has been held in detention since. She is due in court in Ho Chi Minh City on 7 August alongside the two other bloggers Nguyen Van Hai also known as ‘Dieu Cay’ () and Phan Thanh Hai, who blogs under the name ‘Anhba SG’.
Ta Phong Tan used her blog to denounce corruption and injustice in Vietnam’s legal system.
The three bloggers face a possible 20-year jail sentence for violating article 88 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code oultlawing anti-government propaganda.
Dang Thi Kim Lieng set herself on fire in front of the People’s Committee in Bac Lieu province.
‘Her wounds were very serious and she died on the way to the hospital,’ Mr Dinh Huu Thoai, a priest close to the family of Ta Phong Tan said.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Lieng’s self-immolation “follows a series of acts of harassment by the authorities in the city of Bac Lieu.”
Just a few days earlier, the family and some of their neighbours were threatened with eviction.
Sources have told SEAPA that local authorities forced the victim’s daughters to sign a statement indicating they would not press charges against any of member of the police in exchange for getting their mother’s remains for burial.
Out of love for their mother, the family agreed to sign such the statement. Her body was brought back home and a funeral service is planned for Aug. 2.
Throughout the wake, police personnel surrounded their house standing guard, and watching the family’s every move.
Despite this, friends and neighbours overcame their usual fear and made steady visits to the family’s home to lend their support and condolences.