Posts Tagged ‘Luon Savath’

Cambodian MEA Laureate 2012 Luon Sovath charged with incitement

November 5, 2014

 
cambodia-luon-sovath-award-oct-2012.jpg

(Luon Sovath after receiving the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in Geneva on 2 October 2012; left myself.  AFP)
 On 4 November Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that two outspoken critics of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen are called to court this month on vague charges of “incitement to commit a crime,” but the defendants say they have done nothing illegal. It concerns the human rights defender and monk Luon Sovath (MEA Laureate 2012) and dissident Sourn Serey Ratha (based in the USA). They received summons dated 22 October (!) signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpeseth accusing then of “incitement to commit crimes in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and abroad” in 2011, under Penal Code article 495, but the summonses, which ordered the two men to appear in court together in the capital on 25 November, do not specify what crimes they had incited or how their cases were linked.

[Under the Penal Code, incitement is vaguely defined in article 495 as directly provoking the commission of a crime or an act that creates “serious turmoil in society” through public speech, writings or drawings, or audio-visual telecommunication. Luon Sovath faces up to five years in prison if convicted, while Sourn Serey Ratha faces a total maximum punishment of 15 years.]

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Cambodian radio journalist Mam Sonando in appeal gets slightly better deal

March 11, 2013

800 people gathered for a day and a half in front of the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal to support Mam Sonando.

(800 people gathered in front of the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal to support Mam Sonando (c) Clothilde Le Coz)

Arrested on July 15th 2012, Beehive Radio journalist and director, Mam Sonando, was sentenced in the first instance to twenty years in prison in October 2012. He was charged with instigating villagers and peasants to protest against lands expropriation, in Kratie province. He was convicted and sentenced for “aggravating circumstances rebellion, unlawful interference in the performance of public functions, insurrection, inciting people to take arms against the state authority”. After spending already eight months in prison, his appeal started on 5 March 2013.

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Venerable LUON SOVATH becomes MEA laureate 2012

October 2, 2012

 

 The international human rights movement announces the 2012 Martin Ennals Award winner, A Cambodian Monk working to prevent Forced Evictions

 The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA), met in Geneva today and selected the Venerable LUON Sovath as the 2012 Martin Ennals Award winner. The Prize winner was announced at a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva at Victoria Hall.

 The Venerable Luon Sovath, a Buddhist monk from Siem Reap, Cambodia witnessed his family and fellow villagers being forcibly evicted from their homes in 2009.  Since then he has been a strong advocate against forced evictions, which remove families from their homes, often violently and little or no compensation. Despite threats to his person, of arrest and disrobing, the Venerable Sovath, a non-violent Buddhist monk, uses videos, poems and songs to defend the right to housing. His advocacy touches powerful economic interests. The threats against the Venerable Sovath are very real.

Venerable Sovath was selected from among three final Nominees. Also nominated was Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian Lawyer serving a 6 year prison sentence in Iran for her Human Rights work . She is known particularly for her work on behalf of women and children’s rights, especially juveniles facing execution. The third nominee is the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, who report widely on human rights abuses in Bahrain. Many of their key staff are currently imprisoned for their work.

The New Chair of the Martin Ennals Foundation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, the former Swiss President and Foreign Minister said: “This year’s novel  format with three nominees made the Jury’s decision particularly difficult. As a Buddhist monk, Venerable Sovath has managed to raise wider attention to the issue of forced evictions in Cambodia”

 The main award of the human rights movement. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide.  The Jury is composed of the following NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.

 Previous laureates : Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera (2011) Muhannad Al-Hassani, Syria, Emad Baghi, Iran; Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Uzbekistan; Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, Burundi and Rajan Hoole-Kopalasingham Sritharan, Sri Lanka; Akbar Ganji, Iran and Arnold Tsunga, Zimbabwe; Aktham Naisse, Syria; Lida Yusupova, Russia; Alirio Uribe Muñoz, Colombia; Jacqueline Moudeina, Chad; Peace Brigades International; Immaculée Birhaheka, DR Congo; Natasha Kandic, Yugoslavia; Eyad El Sarraj, Palestine; Samuel Ruiz, Mexico; Clement Nwankwo, Nigeria; Asma Jahangir, Pakistan; Harry Wu, China.

 Patrons of the Martin Ennals Award: Asma Jahangir, Barbara Hendricks, José Ramos-Horta, Adama Dieng, Leandro Despouy, Louise Arbour, Robert Fulghum, Irene Khan, Theo van Boven and Werner Lottje†.

For further information visit www.martinennalsaward.org

EMBARGOED until 18:45 Central European (Geneva) Time 2 Oct 2012

 

Boeung Kak Lake women sentenced for peaceful protest in Cambodia

June 20, 2012

On 24 May I reported that the Buddhist monk Luon Savath, nominee of the 2012 MEA detained and threatened with defrocking, which would open the way to criminal prosecution. This has not happened yet but the group of 13 women whose protest he was supporting and covering with his video camera, were sentenced as reported by the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC) on 19th June 2012 

Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake has been an area of ongoing land disputes which has resulted in more than 600 families receiving land grants and over 3,500 families being evicted, while other families have been unfairly excluded from receiving land titles. On the 22nd of May about eighty members of the community gathered peacefully at the sand filled lake to sit and sing land rights songs in support of eighteen displaced families. Before noon, it was reported that about two hundred Phnom Penh police and anti-riot police carrying shields and sticks surrounded some of the protesters and arrested thirteen women. Within forty-eight hours all the women received prison sentences, including a seventy two year-old grandmother, to thirty months of imprisonment under Articles 34 and 259 of the Land Law and Articles 504 of the Penal Code.

WHRD IC is particularly concerned that proceedings began only an hour after charges were filed and those proceedings lasted only three hours. Lawyers asked for a delay to allow the preparation of a defense, which is their right under Cambodian law. However not only was this refused, but the lawyers for the accused were also refused access to the files, state evidence, and were not permitted to call witnesses (some of whom were on standby outside the court). Furthermore, two community representatives, who were to act as witnesses for the defense, were arrested outside the court on the same charges; they have since been released on bail under the supervision of the court. Other witnesses, media and the public were not admitted to the courtroom to observe the proceedings. This irregular judicial process denied the women their right to a fair trial and was in clear violation of Cambodia’s Code of Criminal Procedure.

The women have appealed their convictions to the Appeal Court and requested bail; the appeal court hearing is scheduled for 27 June. There has also been a lack of response to calls from the international community, including WHRD IC members, to the Prime Minister Hun Sen to vacate the convictions of the women.

The WHRD IC calls for the Cambodian authorities to:

·        Immediately vacate the convictions and unconditionally release the thirteen women and also drop the criminal charges of the two other community representatives now out on bail.
·        Uphold the right to a fair and just trial and the right of peaceful assembly for all its citizens under the Cambodian law and international standards, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Cambodia is a state party.
·        Grant land titles to the families who have been excluded and to provide adequate compensation to those who were evicted in full compliance with international human rights standards.
·        Fulfil their commitments under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure that human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities.

For more information including articles, photos and video please visit The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) website http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/ and the Free the 15! Blog http://freethe15.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/solidarity-action-5-ceremony-to-free-the-15/

MEA nominee Luon Savath just been released

May 24, 2012

We have  just learned that the Venerable Luon Savath been released and is now at the office of the NGO LICADHO. But not sure that this is the end of the story and will keep you posted.

Venerable Luon Savath today detained and maybe defrocked as prelude to arrest in Cambodia

May 24, 2012

The 2012 nominee of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the ‘multimedia’ monk Luon Savath, was this morning ‘arrested’. In fact, senior members of the monastic community were involved in detaining him after he took photos of protesting Boeung Kak lake villagers outside Phnom Penh municipal court. As can be seen on http://youtu.be/0sG6iLwj95o, some monks, police and unidentified plain-clothed men forced him into a Land Cruiser and ushered him away from the scene as more than 60 protesters, flanked by about 100 police, called for the release of 13 Boeung Kak women who where being questioned inside. The Venerable Loun Savath was already banned from all pagodas in Phnom Penh last year by Supreme Patriarch Nun Nget. It seems that the Venerable Loun Savath was driven to Pagoda Botum, where police and officials from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Cults and Religion barricaded him inside, sealing off entries so even pagoda boys could not enter. According to Buddhist internal rules, a committee of monks needs to meet and express whatever they think he has done wrong, then the monk in question is supposed to be able to respond to committee.   Afterwards, the committee can decide to ‘advise’ him of ‘misconduct’ or ask ‘permission’ to defrock. With unusual and uncommon speed this has happened all within the same day!  Luon Savath was able to make one call and then his mobile phone was  cut off and no one has been able to reach him since. There is serious reason to worry and the international community should be mobilized.

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2012052456374/National-news/activist-monk-loun-savath-detained.html

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