» 07/31/2012, 00.00
Catholic dissident’s mother sets herself on fire. Anger and bewilderment of Vietnamese
J.B. An Dang
Dang Thi Kim Lieng's self-immolation in front of government offices in the southern province of Bac Lieu. Her daughter Maria Ta Phong Tan, a former policewoman converted to Christianity, is in jail awaiting trial. She faces up to 20 years in prison for propaganda against the state. Human rights activists and bloggers: specious accusations.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The Vietnamese Catholic community is
in shock over the death of Dang Thi Kim Lieng, mother of Mary Ta Phong Tan
(pictured), a famous dissident in jail awaiting trial who faces up to 20 years
in prison. The
woman set herself on fire in front of government offices in the southern province of Bac Lieu, to protest against abuses by
the prison authorities who hold her daughter, depriving her of basic rights. The
mother died from severe wounds inflicted by the flames sparking the reaction of
many bloggers in the country, who accuse the Communist Party and government
leaders of a policy of repression and of systematically violating the freedom
of religion and thought,
with trumped-up charges including "spreading propaganda against the
saying a word to family and friends, Dang Thi Kim Lieng went to the government
offices in the province
of Bac Lieu and self-immolated.
and lawyers who fight for human rights in Vietnam
say that the woman died during her transport to the hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. However,
neither police nor the official authorities have commented on the case or
confirmed the event. Some
relatives report that Dang recently appeared very concerned about the fate of her
daughter Maria Ta Phong Tan, locked in a prison in the former Saigon,
whom she has not seen since last September, the date of her arrest. The
police maintain she is guilty of "subversive activities" and of
having written "slander" published online, discrediting the Hanoi government and the
hearing in court against Mary Tan, 44, should begin on 7 August and there is a
very real possibility she will be sentenced to decades in prison. She
is a former police officer well known in Vietnam, because she denounced
abuses and distortions of the prison system online (see AsiaNews 17/04/2012 Vietnamese
government tries three bloggers for writing about strikes and justice). Her
decision to convert to Catholicism also weighs against her, after an
adolescence and childhood characterized by continuous "brainwashing" in
Communist ideology. However,
her encounter with a lawyer and activist for human rights sparked her desire to
rediscover the faith that, over time, led her to baptism.
Vietnamese government has implemented tight control over religious activities,
and Catholics are often victims of violence and abuse, both individuals and
entire communities. Among
the many examples are the Montagnards in the Central
Highlands and the Redemptorist
Fathers, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, whose pastoral commitment
is choked with systematic regularity. However,
this violence did not prevent them from playing a key role in the spread of
Catholicism and the teachings of the Church, especially among the poor and the
abandoned (see AsiaNews 05/08/2011 Redemptorists
teach Church's social doctrine in Ho Chi Minh City).
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Hanoi censors and patrols funeral of Catholic dissident’s mother
The elderly woman died after setting herself on fire to protest the unjust imprisonment of her daughter. The authorities want to stop and interrogate those who pay homage to the family. The trial of Mary Ta Phong Tan will open on August 7, she faces up to 20 years in prison for "propaganda against the state".
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