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Vietnamese Blogger's Mother Sets Herself On Fire Ahead of Daughter's Trial, Reports Say

BY Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya | Monday, August 6 2012

Three anti-corruption bloggers will be brought to trial tomorrow in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of "distorting the truth" and "denigrating the part and state," AFP reports. If convicted the bloggers could serve up to 20 years in jail.

The story attracted international attention when Dang Thi Kim Lieng, the mother of accused blogger Ta Phong Tan, set herself on fire early Monday in front of a local government office, according to reports. It was the first act of self-immolation in Vietnam in four decades.

Dieu Cay, one of the bloggers in question, received the charge of "anti-government propaganda" almost immediately after he had finished serving a 30-month sentence for tax evasion. He was one of the bloggers mentioned by name in a World Press Freedom Day statement by President Obama in May.

Vietnam currently ties for second place with Iran on the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) "Enemies of the Internet" ranking. On July 16, three Vietnamese activists were sentenced to four and five years in jail for criticizing the government in foreign press, the Associated Press reports. Eighteen online activists are currently imprisoned inside the country, earning Vietnam the unenviable title of "the world's third largest prison for bloggers and cyber-dissidents" according to RSF.