WASHINGTON DC - A Cambodian monk who has worked to advocate for housing rights in Cambodia has been nominated for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award.
Venerable Loun Sovath uses poems, songs and even video clips to help advocate for poor Cambodians facing forced evictions from property developments and land concessions across the country.
The awardee will be announced in Geneva on Oct. 2, and nominees will be judged by leading human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Other nominees include Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian woman and lawyer who is serving an 11-year prison sentence, and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, which is recognized for its work documenting rights abuses in that country.
Loun Sovath, who is based in Siem Reap, told VOA Khmer via Skype on Monday that his work has put him in danger on some occasions, but he is “committed” to continuing his advocacy.
His work has pitted him against powerful interests, he said, and he faces the threats of violence and defrocking. He was briefly detained in May while video taping peaceful protests in Phnom Penh.
“What I have been doing does not veer from Buddha’s path, nor is it against national and international laws on human rights,” he said. “I am not alone.There will be more monks joining me, because Buddha himself was the real human rights defender.”