Cambodian rights issues are in the spotlight this week, with a delegation of activists arriving for a leadership award’s ceremony. Tep Vanny is in Washington to receive a leadership award this week from Vital Voices, an organization started by Hillary Clinton in 1997. Accompanying her are two other rights activists, Eang Vuthy, director of Equitable Cambodia, and Sia Phirum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force. In interviews with VOA Khmer, the Cambodian activists said they will meet with prominent international groups and policymakers to explain land grabs, forced evictions and other pressing issues. (Sok Khemara, Washington)
The global leadership award land rights advocate Tep Vanny will receive Tuesday night in Washington DC from Vital Voices empowers Cambodian women and can assist citizens seeking justice, the secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force in Cambodia said Monday. Sia Phirum, speaking with VOA Khmer’s Sok Khemara in a Washington TV Studio, said he is in Washington for meetings with U.S. officials and NGOs and to support Tep Vanny. He will attend the gala event at the Kennedy Center. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled to attend. “I think that this award can help the [Cambodian] government to reconsider how it handles land issues for the people; otherwise Cambodia’s reputation is in a downward spiral,’’ Sia Phirum said.
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.