Land rights activists want royal pardon for Tep Vanny

Source : Khmer Times

Prominent activist Tep Vanny has been imprisoned for more than 18 months.

Residents of the Boeung Kak community yesterday submitted a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet, asking the premier to seek a royal pardon to release their jailed representative Tep Vanny, and also solve their outstanding land dispute.

According to the petition by eight Boeung Kak community members, Ms Vanny, a mother of two children, has been imprisoned for more than a year and a half.

In the petition, the residents asked Mr Hun Sen to help request that the King grant a pardon for Ms Vanny as a way to contribute to the promotion of women’s rights ahead of the upcoming International Women’s Day on Thursday.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] please help intervene to solve our land issue and release Ms Tep Vanny from prison,” the residents wrote.

One of the Boeung Kak residents, Chan Puthisak, said the request for intervention was made because the premier had full rights and power to request a royal pardon for Ms Vanny.

“The case against Ms Tep Vanny happened when she and other community members came to ask for intervention in our land dispute near the Prime Minister’s house,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the premier to help intervene with the issuance of a sub-decree to cut 12.44 hectares for the residents.”

Kong Chamroeun, secretary of Mr Hun Sen’s cabinet, said the cabinet could not accept the petition because the document was insufficient.

“The document is wrong, and they do not have the court’s verdict attached, so I do not accept it. They have to prepare it properly first,” Mr Chamroeun said.

Ms Vanny was arrested in August 2016 while she and the community conducted a “Black Monday” campaign against mass evictions in her neighbourhood.

She was charged with using violence against Daun Penh security guards near Mr Hun Sen’s house in March 2013 and sentenced to two and a half years in jail.

Last month at the Supreme Court, Ms Vanny flatly denied that she committed the alleged offence near the premier’s house in 2013.

“I did not commit any offence as alleged,” she said. “I did not use violence against two Daun Penh district security guards. I did not even have any intention to think of it.”

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