Land IssuesBriefing Paper The Yorm Bopha Case
April 23, 2013
There has been some recent confusion surrounding the criminal case against Boeung Kak community activist Yorm Bopha. The muddling of the facts causing this confusion has been no accident – it reflects an intentional campaign by the authorities, complete with plausible allegations of payments to counter-protestors and even a disturbing weighing-in by the Prime Minister himself. In reality the facts underlying Bopha’s unwarranted conviction are simple, and reveal beyond any doubt that the authorities have targeted her to create fear and self-censorship among the remaining active members of the beleaguered Boeung Kak community.
March 13, 2013
On the morning of March 13, 2013, a group of military police and police officers, accompanied by district security guards, stormed a peaceful protest by the Boeung Kak Lake community. In what turned out to be the most violent crackdown against this community, five citizens were left injured, including broken teeths and bones.
March 13, 2013
Authorities’ escalated their ongoing crackdown on the Boeung Kak Lake community today, as police launched a brutal attack on demonstrators who had gathered in a public park outside the Prime Minister’s house.
Three people were detained and five were seriously injured, including Lous Sokorn, the husband of imprisoned Boeung Kak rights activist Yorm Bopha. The demonstrators were calling for the release of Bopha, who has been designated a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.
February 26, 2013
Today is Yorm Bopha’s 176th day in Correctional Center 2, a prison on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Bopha is a human rights defender from the Boeung Kak community who played an active role in the movement calling for the release of the Boeung Kak 13, a group of women who were imprisoned in May 2012 for defending their land rights. The 13 were released on June 27, but Bopha was arrested on Sept. 4, 2012, and accused of beating of a man in Boeung Kak. Though she maintains her innocence, Bopha was convicted on Dec. 26, 2012, and sentenced to three years in prison.
Since Bopha’s arrest, Boeung Kak residents and other supporters have staged approximately a dozen major protests calling for her release. This photo album documents some of these events.
February 18, 2013
The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff, according to a new report from LICADHO.
The past year was the most violent year ever documented in terms of the authorities using lethal force against activists, according to the report, “Human Rights 2012: The Year in Review.” The year also saw four deaths related to conflicts over natural resources, a growing atmosphere of fear and intimidation and the mass arrests of activists.
February 12, 2013
The human rights situation in Cambodia began 2012 teetering on the edge of a precipice, and by the end of the year had fallen off the cliff.
The sheer volume of shocking turns makes it difficult to choose where to begin a summary of 2012: Independent radio station owner Mam Sonando was sentenced to 20 years in prison on politically-motivated charges. The country’s most prominent environmental activist was shot dead in the forest while investigating illegal logging. A journalist working on logging issues was murdered in Ratanakiri province. A town governor opened fire on protesting garment workers and has yet to spend a day in prison. And 17 leaders from Phnom Penh communities facing eviction spent time in prison.
December 27, 2012
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Yorm Bopha on a trumped up charge and sentenced her to three years’ imprisonment. The charges against her and three other defendants were purportedly in connection with the beating of a suspected thief, but the real case against her is crystal clear – she, and the rest of the Boeung Kak community land activists are thorns in the side of the authorities, and they need to be silenced.
December 20, 2012
At 2 p.m. on December 26, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hold trials for two human rights defenders involved in high-profile land disputes: Yorm Bopha, from the Boeung Kak community, and Tim Sakmony, from Borei Keila. The women have been in prison for over 100 days, and were recently designated Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International.
In anticipation of the trial, the Free the 15 coalition has produced short biographies of each woman, which detail their personal stories and their legal battles.
December 19, 2012
From December 8th to December 17th, more than 42,000 Cambodians across the country celebrated "International Human Rights Day". Events were held to highlight land, labor, and human rights with the unifying slogan "We All Need Justice & Freedom!". The final event took place in Phnom Penh the morning of December 17th, when organizers & volunteers danced to a land-rights themed rendition of "Gangnam-style" in front of the National Assembly wearing t shirts which had been endorsed by over 11, 000 Cambodians. Participants also presented over 40,000 signatures calling for an end to evictions in Cambodia coordinated by Amnesty International volunteers living in France, Germany, New Zealand & South Korea.
December 9, 2012
The climate for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Cambodia has soured dramatically since LICADHO's last HRD report in 2009, creating the country's worst human rights environment in more than a decade. Violence against activists is on the rise, key HRDs have been killed with impunity, and the courts have lost even the faintest semblance of impartiality.
The year 2012 has been particularly bad.
November 15, 2012
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, condemn the arrest today of eight residents from an airport-area community after they painted the letters “SOS” on their rooftops in an apparent plea to United States President Barack Obama, who arrives in Phnom Penh next week for the 21st ASEAN Summit and 7th East Asia Summit.
September 6, 2012
In the past three days, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered the unjustified pre-trial detention of two female land rights advocates in unrelated cases. These two incidents are the latest in a long string of incidents in which the courts have been wielded as a weapon to silence victimized communities.
The two arrested activists have long been struggling to advocate on behalf of powerless residents involved in land disputes with some of Cambodia’s most well-connected and powerful business tycoons.
July 23, 2012
Late last year, the Cambodian government quietly released a draft Law on the Management and Use of Agricultural Land that would have serious implications for private landholders. The draft law as currently written could be used as legal cover for land-grabbing and for those who wish to exploit and personally profit from Cambodia's land and resources. Most alarmingly, the law creates felony criminal liability for any actions that violate the law's far reaching provisions. The following aspects of the draft law require immediate scrutiny and substantial revisions.
July 22, 2012
This documentary takes a look at the recent campaign to free the 15 imprisoned Boeung Kak lake activists. The fifteen were arrested in late May 2012 during and after a peaceful protest highlighting a long-standing land dispute with Shukaku Inc. company, owned by a Cambodian ruling party senator.
One of the released activists presented this video at the fifth annual Summer Institute in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Singapore in July 2012.
July 2, 2012
Outside the Lines, a new report by local urban NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), proposes a viable and practical solution for the households excluded from the 12.44Ha concession in Boeung Kak. The report shows that the households arbitrarily excluded from the 12.44Ha concession could easily be included in the concession zone, by allowing some households to move inside the area as well as through a small revision of the concession’s boundaries.
We, the undersigned groups, call on the Municipality of Phnom Penh and the Royal Government of Cambodia to heed the community’s calls to physically demarcate the boundaries of the 12.44Ha concession and to enter negotiations with the community to include the excluded households.