Vietnam blogger's mother 'dies in self-immolation'

The mother of a prominent Vietnamese blogger has died after setting herself on fire ahead of her daughter's trial for propaganda against the Communist state, people close to the family said Monday.

Ta Phong Tan, a 43-year-old Catholic former policewoman, was arrested in September 2011 and has been held in detention along with two other bloggers, one of whose case has been raised by US President Barack Obama.

Tan's mother Dang Thi Kim Lieng set herself ablaze early Monday, according to Catholic activists and lawyers whose accounts to AFP were corroborated by reports on dissident blogs and the BBC's Vietnamese-language service.

"Her wounds were very serious and she died on the way to the hospital," said Dinh Huu Thoai, a priest close to the family of Tan, who is due in court in Ho Chi Minh City next week alongside the two other bloggers.

The trio are accused of "distorting the truth, denigrating the party and state" by posting hundreds of political articles on the banned website "Free Journalists Club" of Vietnam, as well as writing on their own blogs.

Lieng, 64, is reported to have set fire to herself in front of the offices of the People's Committee of Bac Lieu -- the local authorities in Tan's native province -- according the Chuacuuthe Catholic blog.

"She was very much worried about her daughter... she was very worried about her daughter's trial... she was worried she would never see her daughter again," Catholic activist Le Quoc Quan told AFP.

Repeated attempts to contact Tan's family members were unsuccessful, as their mobile phones and landlines were unreachable on Monday, while there was no official confirmation of the incident from the authorities.

Tan's lawyer, Nguyen Quoc Dat, said he had heard from several sources that his client's mother had died after setting herself on fire but he had not been able to speak to any family members to confirm it firsthand.

Tan used her blog to denounce corruption and injustice in Vietnam's legal system.

She was due to stand trial alongside Phan Thanh Hai, who blogged on highly sensitive topics including territorial disputes with China, and Nguyen Van Hai, better known by his online alias Dieu Cay.

President Obama raised Dieu Cay's case in a statement to mark World Press Freedom Day in May this year.

The hearing for the trio is set to start on August 7, Dieu Cay's lawyer Ha Huy Son told AFP previously.

They are due to be tried under article 88 of the Criminal Code, which covers conducting propaganda against the one-party communist state and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, according to their lawyers.

In a January report, US-based Human Rights Watch said Hanoi had "intensified its repression" of dissidents in the last year, with dozens of peaceful activists being jailed under "vaguely defined articles" of the penal code.

"Obviously, it's a tragedy," Phil Robertson, HRW's Asia deputy director, told AFP in response to Lieng's death. "The larger issue is what prompted this."

The Vietnamese government "is driving people to desperation due to deepening crackdowns on human rights", he said.

"This was an act of desperation, trying to somehow signal to the government what its repression is doing to families," he said, calling on donors to do more to seek the release of the three bloggers currently facing trial.

"This is not just a tragedy for one family. This is a tragedy for the whole country," he added.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea
    Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Philippines on Sunday urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take "de facto control" of the area. …

  • Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters
    Philippines urges Southeast Asia to rally to halt China reclamation in disputed waters

    The Philippines on Sunday called on neighbouring Southeast Asian nations to push for an immediate halt to China's reclamation in the disputed South China Sea ahead of a regional summit. China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested …

  • President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit
    President to appeal for Filipina's life at Malaysia summit

    The Philippine president said Sunday he would appeal for mercy for a Filipina who is due to be executed in Indonesia in two days' time. President Benigno Aquino said he would take the opportunity to seek clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who is due to be put to death on Tuesday, while in Malaysia for a regional summit Monday. "Once I am there, I will try to speak to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to appeal once more for her case," Aquino said. She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms …

  • Beijing poised for 'de facto control' of S.China Sea: Philippines
    Beijing poised for 'de facto control' of S.China Sea: Philippines

    Beijing is poised to take "de facto control" of the South China Sea, the Philippines warned on Sunday as it called on fellow Southeast Asian countries to "finally stand up" to their massive neighbour. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the strategic South China Sea, but Beijing claims nearly all of it and its increasingly strident assertions of its territorial ambitions have caused concern in the region and beyond. "(China) is poised to consolidate de facto control …

  • U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions
    U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday not to execute 10 prisoners, including two Australians, for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has so far informed seven of the 10 death row inmates, including the Australians and one Nigerian, that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Nationals from Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines are also on Indonesia's death row. A temporary reprieve was granted to a French citizen who will not …

  • AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys
    AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is adopting a wait and see approach amid reports that China will soon deploy seaplanes to further strengthen its maritime claims in the disputed Spratlys. Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesman for the military and commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service, said they have yet to ascertain the real purpose behind China’s continuing aggressive moves in the region. “We will wait and see before coming up with an official stand,” Kakilala said when …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options