Residents of the Boeung Kak community yesterday requested UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith and ASEAN embassies to campaign for the release of land activist Tep Vanny, who has now been imprisoned for one year.
Gathering in front of the United Nations office in Phnom Penh yesterday, Boeung Kak resident Song Sreyleap said the arrest of Ms Vanny was unjust as she was only protesting for social justice over a land dispute in Boeung Kak.
Ms Sreyleap added that she hopes Ms Smith and the embassies of ASEAN countries will pressure the Cambodian government to respect human rights and release Ms Vanny.
“We hope the Cambodian government will have a fair and independent trial for Ms Vanny to assure her freedom,” Ms Sreyleap said.
Another Boeung Kak community representative Bov Sophea said: “While Ms Smith is present in Cambodia, she should intervene for the release of Ms Vanny, as Ms Vanny is a woman who only protested for housing rights.”
Ms Smith could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Human rights investigator for Adhoc Seoung Sen Karona said that there were many national and international circles monitoring the case of Ms Vanny.
He added that the human rights groups that met with Ms Smith recently also raised the case.
“However, we have already seen that the previous special representatives have often rejected any requests or recommendations, so we think there may be no hope this time,” Mr Karona said.
Boeung Kak community representative and prominent land activist 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 Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in March 2013, and sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment.