Lifestyle & Belief

Vietnam: a detained blogger's mother self-immolates


Ta Phong Tan (in white glasses to the right) is a former Vietnamese police officer turned anti-corruption blogger. She is currently on trial under accusations of dispersing anti-government propaganda.

By Vietnamese standards, Ta Phong Tan's blog was dangerously rebellious.

Before she was locked up, the former police officer posted rants against the one-party state interspersed with Bible quotes. No one familiar with the communist government's opinion of democracy agitators or politically active religious groups should be surprised that she's now in prison facing charges of posting anti-government propaganda.

But the detained blogger's mother, 64-year-old Dang Thi Kim Lieng, has protested her daughter's detention with an even more radical method of dissent.

According to Voice of America and other outlets, she approached a government office yesterday and set herself on fire.

The Web site Dan Lam Bao, sympathetic to the family, appears to have verified the immolation with extremely graphic photos of Dang's charred remains.

To those alive during the Vietnam War era, her demise may recall the death of Thich Quang Duc, the monk who famously burned himself alive in 1963. But Thich Quang Duc was resisting very different forces: the anti-communist, pro-Catholic former state of South Vietnam.

Modern-day Vietnam's heavy-handed approach to silencing bloggers and activist Catholics is no secret. Before the police separated her from her keyboard, Tan Ta Phong was both.

Her mother has now drawn even more attention to her cause through one of the most disturbing means of protest imaginable.