Target: Prime Minister Hun Sen
Goal: To attain the release of Cambodian activists jailed for protesting forced evictions.
Two Cambodian women activists are facing prison time for protesting against forced evictions. Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony are from Phnom Penh and are currently being held in Prey Sar prison in the city. Human rights organizations are declaring them prisoners of conscience.
Thousands of people have been forcibly evicted from their homes on and around Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake since 2007, when the land was leased to a company for development. The residents were harassed and threatened, to make them accept inadequate compensation or relocation to a place far from work opportunities and without basic services and infrastructure. Women were at the forefront of campaigning and protests to remain in their homes. The trials of Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony are scheduled in Phnom Penh Municipal Court. They are facing two separate charges. Yorm Bopha is charged with “international violence with aggravating circumstances.” The circumstances surrounding this charge are unknown. Tim Sakmony, a 65-year-old grandmother, is charged with making a “false declaration.” This seems to come from a request she made on the behalf of her disabled son for an apartment that was promised to him following the forced eviction of their community.
Both Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony have been prominent over the past number of years in protesting against forced evictions. Yorm Bopha in particular was outspoken against the detention of 13 women activists jailed for 2 years for protesting forced evictions. Tim Sakmony is also a representative of families currently living in tents next to the community that was bulldozed after they were evicted from there. The charges leveled against these two women are baseless and the continuation of a practice by the Cambodian government of imprisoning advocates for betting housing. Demand that Cambodia release these two activists at once.
Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,
Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released. They are simply exercising their human right to the freedom of assembly and protest. By denying them and their peers the right to protest against unfit living conditions, your government is showing the international community the way you handle human rights. Your government must stop using violence and intimidation against human rights defenders.
By halting the policy of forced evictions in Cambodia, you will not only be allowing basic human rights to your citizens but also limiting the number of innocent dissenters you will need to throw into jail. I ask that you please ensure the rights of your people and move Cambodia towards a more internationally respected position within the human rights community.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Simon via Pixabay