Latest Flash News & Articles

Flash News: Free The 19-land activist, Ly Seav Minh, denied bail
Published on March 19, 2015

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court today denied a bail request for 'Free the 19' activist, Ly Seav Minh. Whilst today was originally scheduled for a trial, the judge agreed to hear a request for bail. After listening for about 20 minutes to arguments raised by the defense lawyers, the prosecutor and Ly Seav Minh herself, the judge denied bail after 5 minutes’ deliberation and without providing any reasons.

Ly Seav Minh was arrested on November 18, 2014 and has been imprisoned under pre-trial detention ever since. She is charged with the offence of violence against the possessor of immoveable property (Land Law article 253) following a complaint filed by the Khun Sea Company, a well-connected company that has long sought to oust Ly Seav Minh and her family from their property. The complaint relates to events on April 29, 2013 but was only filed at court on September 5, 2014.

After leaving the courtroom today Ly Seav Minh said, "Today I feel very disappointed about court decision because I didn’t get justice. But because I have all the support from community and NGO I feel strong and can continue to struggle for justice." Her trial was re-scheduled for 2pm on March 25, 2014. No reason was given for the postponement.

Related Material:

Flash News: Protesters seek Michelle Obama’s support in cases of imprisoned activists
Published on March 17, 2015

This morning, a group of more than 100 protesters from Boeung Kak, Borei Keila, Thmor Kol and Tuol Sangke communities, including around 60 children and a number of monks, gathered in front of the US embassy to call for the release from prison of their fellow community and family members. The group collected signatures in support of a request for intervention by Michelle Obama in the cases of the imprisoned land rights activists. Michelle Obama will visit Cambodia on March 21 and 22 as part of the Let Girls Learn international education initiative.

The imprisoned activists belong to a group of 19 men and women who were all arrested towards the end of 2014. Eleven of the activists were tried, convicted and sentenced within days of their arrest. The remaining eight are still awaiting their trials and are held in pre-trial detention. All 19 are detained in Prey Sar’s CC1 and CC2 prisons.

Related Material:

Article: Cambodian Women on the Front Line: Six Stories of Resistance
Published on March 13, 2015

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2015 LICADHO, together with the Highlanders Association of Cambodia, organised a forum in Ban Lung, Ratanakiri for people affected by land grabbing. The forum was attended by over 100 representatives from eight different indigenous communities from within Ratanakiri and by land rights activists from other provinces around the country. The theme of the forum was the effect of land conflicts on women and the majority of the participants were women. The participants shared their experiences and ideas and many performed songs they had written telling the stories of their land disputes. We profile six of the women who attended the forum. Their stories illustrate the many hardships faced by women affected by land disputes as well as their remarkable spirit and resilience.



Read the full article... audio available

Flash News: Over 500 march to call for release of female land activists in Phnom Penh
Published on March 8, 2015

Over 500 activists and monks marched from the Ministry of Women's Affairs to Prey Sar's CC2 prison to call for the release of 11 women land rights activists on International Women’s Day. The peaceful protesters travelled over eight kilometres to call for the release of the 11 women who are among the group of 'Free the 19' activists who have been in prison since late 2014.

Authorities did not block marchers but confiscated two coffins that protestors used to signify the death of rights and justice in Cambodia.

Related Material:

Flash News: 19 communities in Preah Sihanouk province demand resolutions to land conflicts
Published on February 24, 2015

Today approximately 160 villagers from 19 different land communities in Preah Sihanouk province marched over 8km from Kampenh Chas community to the Provincial Governor’s Office.

The group submitted a petition requesting a resolution to a land conflict affecting the Kampenh Chas community. Today marks the end of three days of activity which began on February 22 with religious prayers. Yesterday the group marched to the Provincial Cadastral Commission to submit the petition.

Today the Provincial Governor was unavailable but community leaders met with the Deputy Provincial Governor this morning.
“We want to be able to live on our land. We need justice for our communities,” said land activist and co-organiser of the event, Hang Chenda.

Article: Spotlight on The 19: The Freedom Park “Insurrectionists”
Published on February 24, 2015

The trial of 11 Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) members and supporters was due to be held yesterday at 8 am at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Last Thursday, and at very short notice, lawyers for the 11 were informed that the hearing had been postponed. All have been charged with offences they are alleged to have committed during violence which took place at Freedom Park on July 15, 2014. This is the third time there has been a delay in hearing the criminal case against them. Five of the 11 - Meach Sovannara, Sum Puthy, Tep Narin, Ouk Pich Samnang, and Ke Khim - are among the group of ‘Free the 19’ detainees currently imprisoned in Prey Sar’s Correctional Center 1 and Correctional Center 2 .



Read the full article...

Flash News: Grassroots activist Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson deported from Cambodia
Published on February 23, 2015

Grassroots activist, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson from local environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Mother Nature, has been deported from Cambodia on Thai Airways flight TG585, which departed for Bangkok, Thailand, at 8.35 pm this evening. Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson will then board Thai Airways flight TG948 at 00.10 am tonight, bound for Madrid.

The grassroots activist, known for his work in the Areng Valley, Koh Kong province, was arrested and forced into a car near the Phnom Penh night market by government authorities only hours after a warning was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen during a public speech. More than 100 supporters gathered outside the Department of Immigration where Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson was held since about 2.20 pm this afternoon.

Related Material:

Flash News: Grassroots activist threatened with deportation arrested in Phnom Penh
Published on February 23, 2015

This afternoon, Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson from local environmental Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Mother Nature, was arrested and forced into a car near the Phnom Penh night market by government authorities only hours after a warning was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen during a public speech. Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson was arrested shortly after 1 pm and driven in a black car, followed by bodyguards, to the Department of Immigration at around 2.20 pm this afternoon.

Mr. Gonzalez-Davidson has been at the forefront of a campaign by Mother Nature to halt the controversial development of a hydroelectric dam in Areng valley, Koh Kong province. He was denied a visa renewal earlier this month, in what has been a sustained attempt by the government to quash grassroots advocacy and silence dissent.

Related Material:

Article: Spotlight on the 19: Ly Seav Minh
Published on January 28, 2015

Ly Seav Minh is 23 years old and lives with her mother, father and brother in Toul Kork district, Phnom Penh. The family has lived on the land for 35 years and despite possessing evidence of their lengthy occupation of the land, they have been involved in a long-running land dispute with the municipality and the Khun Sea Company, to which the municipality sold the land in 2010. Originally six other families were involved in the dispute but all have now accepted compensation payments and moved away after facing consistent intimidation from the company.



Read the full article...

Flash News: 11 of 'Free the 19' have convictions upheld
Published on January 26, 2015

The Court of Appeal has upheld the convictions of two cases concerning 10 wrongfully convicted Beoung Kak Lake (BKL) activists and one Buddhist monk.

In the first case, Tep Vanny’s sentence has been upheld with a reduced fine of $375. Song Srey Leap, Kong Chantha, Phan Chhunreth, Po Chorvy, and Nong Sreng have received reduced sentences of 10 months in prison with a $375 fine. Nget Khun received a reduced sentence of 6 months in prison and a $250 fine.

In the second case, Heng Pich, Im Srey Touch, and Phoung Sopheap all had their convictions upheld with a reduced sentence of 10 months in prison and a fine of $375.Venerable Seung Hai had his conviction and sentence upheld.

International observers included the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR), UN Women in Cambodia, the European Union, and the German embassy.

Related Material:

Flash News: 11 of 'Free the 19' have appeal decisions delayed
Published on January 22, 2015

This afternoon the Phnom Penh Court of Appeal heard appeals in two cases concerning 10 wrongfully convicted women land rights activists and one Buddhist monk. After hastily conducting the two hearings in just over four hours today, the Court of Appeal will announce a verdict in both cases on January 26, 2015 at 8 a.m

In the first case, Nget Khun, Tep Vanny, Song Srey Leap, Kong Chantha, Phan Chhunreth, Po Chorvy, and Nong Sreng, all long-term Boeung Kak Lake (BKL) activists were convicted of obstructing public traffic on November 11, 2014 and were sentenced to one year in prison and a $500 fine.

In the second case, three more long-term BKL activists, Heng Pich, Im Srey Touch, and Phoung Sopheap, and Buddhist monk Venerable Seung Hai were convicted on November 12, 2014 of aggravated obstruction of public officials and also sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined $500.

Outside the court, over 300 peaceful supporters gathered in solidarity, including Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando.

Inside the courtroom, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) Member of Parliament Mu Sochua and UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi were in attendance. Representatives from the UK, German, U.S., Swedish, and Australian embassies, the European Union, Human Rights Watch, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) and UN Women in Cambodia were also present.

Related Material:

Flash News: Alleged members of Khmer People’s Power Movement (KPPM) sentenced
Published on January 14, 2015

This morning, three alleged members of the Khmer People’s Power Movement (KPPM), Serei Bunlong, Seng Sokmeng and Um Phirun, were convicted of offenses stemming from their activities shortly before the July 2013 National Election. Bunlong and Sokmeng were sentenced to six years in prison and fined $1,250 while Phirun was sentenced to 5 years in prison and received the same fine. All three have had their right to vote rescinded indefinitely.

The three were arrested and detained in Banteay Meanchey Province a month before the July 2013 National Election, following the distribution of watches, radios, DVDs, and t-shirts bearing the KPPM logo and calling for people not to vote in unfair elections. They have been convicted under Criminal Law Article 453 that criminalizes plotting an attack liable to endanger the institutions of the Kingdom of Cambodia or violate the integrity of the national territory, and Law on Election of Members of the National Assembly’s Article 124 that criminalizes the use of force or violence to deter eligible voters from voting.

The KPPM is led by Sourn Serey Ratha, who was also convicted today in absentia. Serey Ratha is a controversial figure in Cambodia who has been labeled a terrorist by the government. This accusation has been used to groundlessly arrest and convict - without evidence and often on the basis of demonstrably false comments made by Ratha - critics of the government, such as radio owner Mam Sonando.

Flash News: Activist Monks denied bail
Published on January 9, 2015

Earlier this morning, defrocked monks Venerable Seung Hai, Venerable Khith Vannak, and Venerable Sang Kosal arrived at the Phnom Penh Appeal Court to request bail, as some 70 supporters gathered outside. Venerable Khith Vannak and Venerable Sang Kosal were appealing for bail following the delay of their previous hearing on December 30, 2014, which lasted just 15 minutes.

Within one hour of arriving at the court, all three defrocked monks were denied bail and transported back to Prey Sar’s CC1 prison.

Venerable Khith Vannak and Venerable Sang Kosal were arrested on November 12, 2014, while carrying national and religious flags attached to bamboo flagpoles in support of land activists from Preah Vihear province. They have been charged with participation in a criminal association (Criminal Code article 499) and face up to five years in prison and $2,500 in fines if found guilty.

Venerable Seung Hai was arrested on the morning of November 11, 2014, outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court whilst protesting for the release of seven Boeung Kak Lake activists. He has already been convicted of obstructing public officials with aggravating circumstances (Criminal Code article 504) and has been sentenced to one year in prison with a $500 fine. He now stands accused of using forged public documents (Criminal Code article 630) and the unauthorized wearing of Buddhist robes (Criminal Code article 508). He faces penalties of up to five years in prison and $2,625 in fines.

Related Material:

Flash News: Hundreds gather at Veng Sreng for commemoration then prevented from marching to Borei Keila
Published on January 3, 2015

This morning hundreds of people gathered at the site of last year’s fatal shootings on Veng Sreng Road to remember the dead and missing. Families of the victims and some of those wrongfully imprisoned following the violence spoke to the crowds. Security forces including Brigade 70 and 90 soldiers were visibly patrolling in the area but did not attempt to prevent the gathering.

Supporters then attempted to march to Borei Keila to mark the three-year anniversary of the forced evictions of Borei Keila communities but after marching almost 3km were blocked by over 100 military and riot police who grabbed, shoved and hit some participants. Marchers were allowed to proceed in vehicles only.

Related Material:

Flash News: Monk activists’ bail appeal decision delayed
Published on December 30, 2014

This morning the Phnom Penh Appeal Court heard the appeal against denial of bail for activist monks Venerable Khith Vannak and Venerable Sang Kosal. The hearing which was closed to the public lasted just 15 minutes and a decision on bail will not be announced until January 9 at 8am. Both monks were defrocked following their arrest and are currently held in pre-trial detention in CC1 prison.

The two monks were arrested on November 12, 2014, while carrying national and religious flags attached to bamboo flag poles in support of land activists from Preah Vihear province. They have been charged with participation in a criminal association (Criminal Code article 499) and face up to five years in prison and $2,500 in fines if found guilty.

Following the short hearing more than 100 monks, land activists and rights workers protested in front of the court calling for the two monks to be released.

Related Material:

Prison Population Watch
13,504 Occupancy Rate: ↗161%

Click here for the latest report on prison overcrowding
Monthly population figures as of November 30, 2014, from the 18 prisons monitored by LICADHO

The Great Cambodian Giveaway

Visualizing Land Concessions over Time