Source: Khmer Times
In celebration of yesterday’s International Women’s Day, Amnesty International released an article profiling six female activists in Southeast Asia and the persecution they face, including prominent Cambodian land rights activist Tep Vanny.
All six women – from Malaysia’s Maria Chin Abdullah, who was detained without trial and held in solitary confinement for 11 days, to the Philippines’ former senator Leila de Lima – have faced imprisonment, harassment and arrest and have worked to highlight human rights abuses in the region.
Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the women’s activism should be commended rather than condemned.
“In Southeast Asia, there are few governments which can be proud of their human rights records, but there are countless women across the region who have braved great dangers to take a stand against injustice,” she said.
Human Rights Watch’s annual report, released in January, noted a severe deterioration in human rights in Southeast Asia by current governments,.
In Cambodia’s case, it noted “a significant escalation on political ground by the government of Hun Sen to target the opposition, human rights workers, social activists and public intellectuals based on political views towards the government.”
Ms. Vanny was sentenced to two years in prison last month on charges related to a protest in 2013, when she and other activists attempted to deliver a petition to Mr. Hun Sen, asking to free fellow activist Yorm Bopha.
Last month’s sentencing was the latest in a string of arrests and detentions for the activist, who has been protesting against the forced evictions of people from the Boeung Kak Lake area for the better part of a decade.
The Cambodian Center For Human Rights, which released a joint statement last month condemning Ms. Vanny’s latest charges as arbitrary and politically motivated, held a women’s day event featuring a photo gallery of 19 female human rights defenders, including Ms. Vanny.
In a statement earlier this week, the center emphasized the importance of women’s advocacy in human rights in the kingdom.
“A large proportion of Cambodia’s activists and human rights defenders are women, and as community leaders and civil society activists they play a vital role in the promotion, strengthening and protection of human rights,” the center said.