Latest NewsPhoto Album: Simultaneous Gatherings in Seoul and Phnom Penh Calling for the Release of Yorm Bopha
Published on May 8, 2013; On the morning of May 8, 2013, Boeung Kak community activists gathered in front of the South Korean Embassy in Phnom Penh to call for the release of Boeung Kak activist Yorm Bopha, declared Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International earlier this year. The action was in solidarity with a similar gathering in front of the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul, where South Korean activists were joined by a visiting Boeung Kak community member. The simultaneous gatherings in the two countries each culminated in the supporters submitting letters calling for the release of Yorm Bopha to Embassy officials.
Published on May 2, 2013; The Boeung Kak community and the undersigned civil society groups call for the inclusion of all remaining families into the 12.44ha concession area by the former lake. A new plan unveiled today by the community shows in detail how this could be achieved in a just and equitable fashion.
On August 11, 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed Sub-Decree No. 183, awarding 12.44ha of the Boeung Kak lake area to the community, which since 2007 has been involved in a land dispute with Shukaku Inc., owned by CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin. Since then, 631 families have received titles for their land. However, over 70 families, whose homes are not located within the confines of the concession zone as outlined in the Sub-Decree, have been excluded.
Published on May 2, 2013; We, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) listed below, would like to reiterate our support and appeal for a free, fair and legitimate election that is held with the full confidence of all political parties contesting seats as well as members of the public casting their vote in the 2013 general election.
Published on May 1, 2013; On May 1, 2013, between 6,000 and 7,000 garment workers, union leaders, local communities, motodops, students, NGOs and others gathered in Phnom Penh to mark International Labor Day. The group marched from Freedom Park to the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, calling for living wages, improved working conditions and for justice in the Born Samnang/Sok Sam Oeun and Chhouk Bandith cases. This album contains a selection of photos from the march.
Published on May 1, 2013; On this International Labor Day, we, the undersigned civil society groups call upon all international garment brands sourcing from Cambodia to publicly denounce two recent baseless judicial decisions related to the garment sector. The first is the recent imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. The two men were scapegoated and wrongly convicted in the 2004 murder of labor leader Chea Vichea. The second is the government’s failure to appropriately prosecute Chhouk Bandith, a well-connected former town governor who shot and severely injured three female garment factory workers.
Published on April 23, 2013; There has been some recent confusion surrounding the criminal case against Boeung Kak community activist Yorm Bopha. The muddling of the facts causing this confusion has been no accident – it reflects an intentional campaign by the authorities, complete with plausible allegations of payments to counter-protestors and even a disturbing weighing-in by the Prime Minister himself. In reality the facts underlying Bopha’s unwarranted conviction are simple, and reveal beyond any doubt that the authorities have targeted her to create fear and self-censorship among the remaining active members of the beleaguered Boeung Kak community.
Published on March 27, 2013; LICADHO, Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), Equitable Cambodia (EC), and Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) express their deep disappointment at the Supreme Court’s failure to release Boeung Kak land rights activist Yorm Bopha on bail. Bopha’s request was heard this morning by the Supreme Court, while some 100 community activists from Boeung Kak and other communities under threat of eviction rallied outside. Bopha’s young son and her husband Lous Sakorn were also among the crowd.
Published on March 14, 2013; We, the undersigned civil society groups, welcome the Court of Appeal’s long-overdue decision today to release independent radio station owner Mam Sonando and his two co-appellants, Touch Ream and Kan Sovann, but caution that a long road remains to rehabilitate Cambodia’s democracy ahead of National Assembly elections in July.
Published on March 13, 2013; On the morning of March 13, 2013, a group of military police and police officers, accompanied by district security guards, stormed a peaceful protest by the Boeung Kak Lake community. In what turned out to be the most violent crackdown against this community, five citizens were left injured, including broken teeths and bones.
Published on March 13, 2013; Authorities’ escalated their ongoing crackdown on the Boeung Kak Lake community today, as police launched a brutal attack on demonstrators who had gathered in a public park outside the Prime Minister’s house.
Three people were detained and five were seriously injured, including Lous Sokorn, the husband of imprisoned Boeung Kak rights activist Yorm Bopha. The demonstrators were calling for the release of Bopha, who has been designated a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.
Published on March 7, 2013; The number of women and girls in Cambodian prisons continues to soar at an alarm-ing rate.
By mid-December 2012 there were 1,270 female inmates in the Cambodian prison system, an increase of 39% since December 2010. Women and girls represent 8% of prisoners in Cambodia but their incarceration rate has been growing four times faster than the male prison population.
Published on March 6, 2013; After a full day of testimony and arguments, the Prosecutor began his closing statement today by requesting that secession-related charges against Mam Sonando be changed. According to the Prosecutor, Sonando should be convicted of instigating the crimes of obstruction and interference with local officials, under articles 28, 504 and 609 of the Penal Code. The Prosecutor also asked to add a forestry crime -- the unlawful clearing of forest land -- under article 97.6 of the Forestry Law. The charges against the other two appellants, Touch Ream and Kann Sovann, remained the same. One witness's testimony was, however, abruptly halted when he repeatedly stated that he had mistakenly identified Sovann as being present at an incident that was the basis for the accusations against him. The witness stated that none of the three appellants had been at the incident in question.
The Appeals Court will announce its decision on March 14, 2013 at 8 am.
Published on February 26, 2013; Today is Yorm Bopha’s 176th day in Correctional Center 2, a prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Bopha is a human rights defender from the Boeung Kak community who played an active role in the movement calling for the release of the Boeung Kak 13, a group of women who were imprisoned in May 2012 for defending their land rights. The 13 were released on June 27, but Bopha was arrested on Sept. 4, 2012, and accused of beating of a man in Boeung Kak. Though she maintains her innocence, Bopha was convicted on Dec. 26, 2012, and sentenced to three years in prison.
Since Bopha’s arrest, Boeung Kak residents and other supporters have staged approximately a dozen major protests calling for her release. This photo album documents some of these events.
Published on February 18, 2013; The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff, according to a new report from LICADHO.
The past year was the most violent year ever documented in terms of the authorities using lethal force against activists, according to the report, “Human Rights 2012: The Year in Review.” The year also saw four deaths related to conflicts over natural resources, a growing atmosphere of fear and intimidation and the mass arrests of activists.
Published on February 15, 2013; The most shocking attack on freedom of expression in 2012 came in September, when muckraking journalist Hang Serei Oudom was murdered. His battered body, hacked at least six times with an axe, was found in the trunk of his car. Oudom’s work had focused on exposing illegal logging and forest crimes involving the local elite.
Meanwhile, as Cambodia’s ASEAN chairmanship unfolded and the 2012 commune election approached, the government demonstrated increased intolerance for peaceful assembly and expression.
Published on February 14, 2013; Authorities continue to resort to the judicial system to silence those who assert their rights or question entrenched interests. Throughout 2012, court summonses and the threat of arrest were increasingly used to intimidate human rights defenders.
Published on February 13, 2013; As the frequency of land grabs has grown, so has the sense of desperation for Cambodians faced with eviction. The perpetrators of land grabs – from business leaders to police to hired hands who carry out actual evictions – operate with near complete impunity. Recourse to the notoriously corrupt judiciary is not an option. For the average Cambodian, the only avenue that offers the prospect of success is civil disobedience, namely public protest and individual action.
The government has become increasingly aggressive in attempting to shut down this avenue as well, despite the fact the vast majority of citizen protests documented by LICADHO during 2012 have been peaceful. Violence is often the government’s tactic of choice.
Published on February 12, 2013; The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff.
The sheer volume of shocking turns makes it difficult to choose where to begin a summary of 2012: Independent radio station owner Mam Sonando was sentenced to 20 years in prison on politically-motivated charges. The country’s most prominent environmental activist was shot dead in the forest while investigating illegal logging. A journalist working on logging issues was murdered in Ratanakiri province. A town governor opened fire on protesting garment workers and has yet to spend a day in prison. And 17 leaders from Phnom Penh communities facing eviction spent time in prison.