Housing rights activist Tep Vanny arrived in Washington this week to accept a leadership award. The Public Life Award was given to her by Vital Voices, an organization formed by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. In a studio interview with VOA Khmer's Sok Khemara, the 31-year-old activist said she was honored to be recognized for her ongoing struggles to raise awareness of forced evictions that have left thousands of Cambodians homeless.
The National Rescue Party organized Cambodians Saturday to gather at the site of a 1997 grenade attack that left 16 people dead and more than 100 injured. Sam Rainsy, the National Rescue Party president, spoke from abroad via Skype to the crowd, noting the absence of justice. “The victims and Cambodian people are still waiting for an investigation and to bring suspects and the responsible behind the crimes to account,’’ Sam Rainsy said. Investigators said four grenades were tossed into the March 30, 1997 rally in support of judicial reform in front of the former National Assembly adjacent to the Royal Palace but no one has been held responsible. Sam Rainsy was speaking at the rally when it was attacked. (VOA Khmer)
Though the government has approved the Lower Sesan 2 Dam project, affected villagers in Stung Treng province continue to rally against it. They want authorities to reconsider plans for the hydropower dam. VOA Khmer's Say Mony reports from northern Cambodia in Stung Treng province. The villagers living along the Sesan river in Stung Treng province say they do not want to see the Lower Sesan 2 dam erected on the river, where generations of Cambodians have supported families by fishing and rice farming. Noy Phut is a fisherman here in Srek Kor village of Sesan district. He says if built, the dam would disrupt his ability to support his family by fishing. “Of course, there will be nothing,’’ Noy Phut said.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld charges against housing activist Yorm Bopha, who is serving a three-year sentence in what supporters say is a threat against the freedom of assembly. Yorm Bopha, 29, is serving a three-year sentence on charges related to violent demonstrations over a development project in the Boeung Kak neighborhood of Phnom Penh, which has displaced some 4,000 families. Amnesty International called the charges against her “fabricated” and lacking credible evidence. More than 100 supporters demonstrated outside the court building, including her mother, who wept and cursed the court. (Heng Reaksmey/Say Mony, Phnom Penh)
Kem Sokha, head of the opposition Human Rights Party, is seeking support from Cambodian workers in South Korea ahead of July's national polls. More than 1,000 workers welcomed Kem Sokha to Soul last weekend, providing financial support as the opposition prepares for the parliamentary elections. In a Skype interview with VOA Khmer Sok Khemara, Kem Sokha said he hoped to update the thousands of Cambodian workers in South Korea on Cambodian politics.
A new documentary from New Zealand, "Brother Number One," tells the story of the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge killing of a yachtsman named Rob Hamill, one of the few foreigners to wind up in the Tuol Sleng torture center of the regime. VOA Khmer's Men Kimseng reports on the film, which screened recently in Washington.
VOA Khmer’s Men Kimseng interviews Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando, who was released from prison Friday after serving eight months in prison, on charges that he says were politically motivated and without evidence. He was accused of fomenting a secessionist movement in Kratie province last year, but rights groups say the charges from the court came only after he publicly criticized Hun Sen. Mam Sonando told VOA Khmer in an interview his freedom was a small thing, but that he would continue broadcasting news to Cambodians and would continue his work with the Association of Democrats, a civic group he says aims at informing people about rights and democracy. He is not planning on joining any political parties, despite broad support from the public. On his release from prison Friday, supporters outside the jail chanted, “hero,” after the courts accused him of stirring a secessionist movement last year. The Appeals Court on Thursday said it was dropping some of the most serious charges against him, but it gave him a five-year suspended sentence on charges related to deforestation that were added by the prosecutor. His lawyer says he will appeal this new sentence.
The owner of Beehive Radio was released from prison on Friday, ending eight months of incarceration. Mam Sonando told VOA Khmer in an interview his freedom was a small thing, but that he would continue broadcasting news to Cambodians and would continue his work with the Association of Democrats, a civic group he says aims at informing people about rights and democracy. He is not planning on joining any political parties, he said, despite broad support from the public. On his release from prison Friday, supporters outside the jail called him a “hero.” VOA Khmer's Say Mony reports from Phnom Penh.