Posts Tagged ‘Phnom Penh’

Cambodia: Joint NGO Statement on the use of force against protesters

September 25, 2013

On 24 September 2013, five NGOs issued a joint statement on Cambodia exactly when there is the interactive dialogue with the UN Rapporteur on that country: Read the rest of this entry »

HRDs in the school culture can end bullying

August 12, 2013

Kerry Kennedy writes in an opinion in the WashingtonPost of 12 August about how her organisation was called by the superintendent of Bucyrus City Schools to address the issue of bullying in the school. The Speak Truth To Power [STTP], human rights education curriculum offered by the Robert F. Kennedy Center is taught in schools around the world — from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to Pisa, Italy, from Stockholm to Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Campaigning helps: Cambodian HRD Mam Sonando speaks out after his liberation

April 19, 2013

 

(Cambodian human rights defender and journalist Mam Sonando a prisoner of conscience © TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

On 12 April 2013 Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam posted on Amnesty‘s Livewire an interesting account of his meeting with the just liberated Cambodian Human Rights Defender Mam Sonando. It is a impressive testimony to the resilience of human rights defenders and how campaigning can help them and therefore I reproduce it below:

It was hot – very hot – as I arrived last week at Mam Sonando’s home and radio station on a dusty street in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. He welcomed me at the front door. “Thank you,” he said. With a broad smile, he flashed his signature ‘V for victory’ sign with his right hand. After over eight months in prison, he was free and no longer facing 20 years behind bars. 

Mam Sonando, 72, is a well-known and popular journalist. He owns Beehive Radio, one of Cambodia’s few independent radio stations. And he heads the Association of Democrats, which promotes human rights and democracy and helps poor communities. On 11 September 2012, his trial began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He had been arrested two months earlier after Cambodia’s Prime Minister accused him publicly of being behind a plot for a village in eastern Cambodia to secede – to break away from the country. In fact, the villagers there had been involved in a long-running land conflict with a powerful company, and the so-called secession plot was used as a pretext to forcibly evict them. Read the rest of this entry »

Cambodian Human rights defender Mam Sonando to be released today

March 16, 2013

On 11 March I referred to the case of the radio journalist Mam Sonando in Cambodia whose criminal charges were being reduced but still maintained. Now Front Line reports that on 14 March 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled that the human rights defender is to be released today as his reduced prison sentence is suspended. While welcoming the release of Mam Sonando, it remains a concern that he was convicted at all.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Forced evictions in Cambodia: two women human rights defenders convicted

February 4, 2013

Ever since the monk Luon Sovath became the Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award 2012, I have following events in Cambodia with more than usual interest. And it is clear that the struggle for land rights there is continuing.

Luon Sovath by Dovona

Luon Sovath by Dovona

Two Cambodian women human rights defenders were convicted on baseless charges in separate trials on 26/27 December 2012. Yorm Bopha was sentenced to three years in prison. Tim Sakmony from Borei Keila received a six-month sentence, partially suspended, and has been released.

Both women have been prominent in protesting against the forced eviction of their communities. Yorm Bopha was outspoken during the detention of 13 other women activists from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake community, who were sentenced for up to two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in May 2012. Tim Sakmony is one of the representatives of 106 families now living in tents next to the demolished site of the Borei Keila community, also in Phnom Penh. The two women are believed to have been targeted because of their leading roles in peacefully advocating for the right to adequate housing for their communities.

Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA23/020/2012/en

In this context I want to draw attention to the film maker Chris Kelly and his colleagues. They have been filming in Cambodia for more than three and a half years, following the lives of three extraordinary individuals(including the Venerable Luon Sovath) caught up in the chaos and turmoil of Cambodia’s economic development. Now they are finished filming and starting the editing phase. They have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds towards the completion of the documentary.Please visit this link to see what they need to raise. If you cannot afford to donate, please help spread the word using your social media platforms, blogs, word of mouth or any other means that you can think of. http://www.blog.thecauseofprogress.com

Luon Sovath speaks out on Radio Free Asia

November 10, 2012

On 7 November the activist monk Luon Sovath, MEA Laureate of 2012, spoke to Radio Free Asia about his work.

As the interview is quite interesting I copied here in in full:

Fresh from receiving the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights,” Cambodia’s technology-savvy activist monk Loun Sovath has called on authorities in his country to end the use of violence in land eviction cases, vowing to continue his struggle to protect victims of land grabs. He also said he would not be cowed by government harassment and called on his fellow monks, often respected as figures of moral authority in Cambodia, to join in the struggle to defend villagers who have become victims of forced evictions. Loun Sovath was the first Southeast Asian to be presented with the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders as he was selected for documenting the struggle of land rights activists and ordinary citizens evicted from their homes in his impoverished country. The monk collected the award—viewed by many as the Nobel Prize for Human Rights—in Geneva last month.

“The Buddha advised people to do good deeds both physically and mentally,” he told RFA’s Khmer service during an interview in Washington on Wednesday. “Respecting human rights is a good deed which will lead to peace and prosperity for this world and in the next. So for monks to become rights defenders is nothing against Buddhism, but can lead to enlightenment and peace.” “Monks play a vital role in society. I appeal to monks to rise up to follow in the Buddha’s footsteps,” he said. Loun Sovath  said the Cambodian people must also rise up to demand their rights, highlighting land disputes as the one of the biggest issues facing the public in the country.

“The authorities must stop using violence against innocent villagers who are the victims of land grabbing,” he said. Research by Cambodian rights group LICADHO shows that some 2.1 million hectares of land has been given to private companies in the form of land concessions over the last two decades. The massive transfer has led to countless forced evictions and affected over 400,000 people in the 12 provinces that LICADHO monitors since 2003 alone, the group said.

Sovath is currently touring the U.S., meeting with the Cambodian community and addressing various nongovernmental organizations on the human rights situation in his country. He began his nearly two-month visit last week in New York, traveled to Washington, and arrived in Chicago Thursday. Sovath said he was honored to receive the Martin Ennals Award.

“I was given the award because I have worked as a rights defender and a protector of social justice involved with land issues, forced evictions, and the protection of natural resources and wildlife,” he said. In June 2011, the New York-based Human Rights Watch awarded Loun Sovath with the Hellman/Hammett grant for his work supporting communities facing forced evictions and land-grabbing in Cambodia.

Luon Sovath by Dovana

Years of activism Sovath first became involved in human rights work in 2009, when members of his family were injured during a police shootout at unarmed villagers in a land eviction case. The monk’s brother and nephew were wounded in the standoff, which he documented in a video. He is known for his extensive use of video to inform the world about his confrontations with authorities, earning him the nickname “multimedia monk.” The monk is rarely seen without a mobile phone or tablet. He also uses songs and art to spread his non-violent message of defending human rights. Loun Sovath said he strove to protect human rights in the interest of his country. “I have a desire to help build Cambodia,” he said. In June, Loun Sovath was briefly detained by Cambodian authorities and accused of “causing instability” after he joined protests against the jailing of 13 women over a long-running forced land eviction case in the capital Phnom Penh. Municipal monk officials threatened to have him defrocked as a monk, but released him after he put his thumbprint on a statement assuring that he will not join future protests. Loun Sovath had been banned in April from entering pagodas in Phnom Penh after he participated in land protests.

Sovath, who has since participated in various protests, said he would not stop his activism even though he was concerned about his personal safety. “The authorities have tried to prevent me from doing good things and from helping the country and [the Buddhist] religion,” Sovath said. “I can’t accept this because I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “As long as human rights violations continue to exist in Cambodia, I will continue to do my work.”

Reported by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.

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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