Land Issues

Statement Child Labor on Sugar Plantations in Cambodia is Well Documented

July 23, 2013audio available

The Guardian newspaper recently ran a damning expose of child labor on the KSL Group sugar plantations in Cambodia that supply the sugar giant Tate & Lyle Sugars. Rather than acting quickly to address the abuses, the companies seem to have resorted to a strategy of denial and legal bullying in an attempt to defend their tarnished reputations.

Continued Violence Intensifies the Need for Resolution to Ongoing Land Conflicts in Phnom Penh

July 3, 2013audio available

In the wake of another two days of protests by members of the Boeung Kak community in Phnom Penh, who are demanding just resolution to a long-standing land conflict affecting their community before the national election on 28 July, we the undersigned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wish to condemn the use of disproportionate force against protesters by the municipal police and other security forces. These protests are just the latest in a series of protests which have resulted in the use of violence or disproportionate force against protesters calling for an end to land disputes.

Cambodian NGOs allege serious abuses linked to Thai sugar giant, Mitr Phol Sugar Corporation

May 31, 2013audio available

Two Cambodian NGOs, LICADHO and Equitable Cambodia filed a petition on behalf of 602 complainants about serious human rights violations linked to large sugar concessions held by Thai sugar giant, Mitr Phol Sugar Corporation.

Water Cannons Used against Peaceful Land Protesters in Cambodia's Capital

May 30, 2013audio available

This morning near Phnom Penh city hall, authorities called in three fire trucks, which used high-pressure water from their hoses to disperse peaceful protesters from the Boeung Kak, Borei Keila and airport communities. Firefighters also targeted some community members who came to rescue colleagues who had fallen down due to the impact of the water. This video was taken at the scene.

Free Boeung Kak Activist Yorm Bopha

May 22, 2013audio available

This year's Mothers Day coincided with the 250th day of imprisonment Yorm Bopha, a key Boeung Kak lake representative. The video highlight some of her activism and call for her release.

Photo Album
Simultaneous Gatherings in Seoul and Phnom Penh Calling for the Release of Yorm Bopha

May 8, 2013

On the morning of May 8, 2013, Boeung Kak community activists gathered in front of the South Korean Embassy in Phnom Penh to call for the release of Boeung Kak activist Yorm Bopha, declared Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International earlier this year. The action was in solidarity with a similar gathering in front of the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul, where South Korean activists were joined by a visiting Boeung Kak community member. The simultaneous gatherings in the two countries each culminated in the supporters submitting letters calling for the release of Yorm Bopha to Embassy officials.

The Boeung Kak Concession should be a Solution for All Remaining Residents

May 2, 2013audio available

The Boeung Kak community and the undersigned civil society groups call for the inclusion of all remaining families into the 12.44ha concession area by the former lake. A new plan unveiled today by the community shows in detail how this could be achieved in a just and equitable fashion.

On August 11, 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed Sub-Decree No. 183, awarding 12.44ha of the Boeung Kak lake area to the community, which since 2007 has been involved in a land dispute with Shukaku Inc., owned by CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin. Since then, 631 families have received titles for their land. However, over 70 families, whose homes are not located within the confines of the concession zone as outlined in the Sub-Decree, have been excluded.

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.

Police and Security Guards Use Excessive Force to Disperse Peaceful Boeung Kak Protesters

March 13, 2013audio available

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.

Police Beat Boeung Kak Protesters, Leaving Five Injured

March 13, 2013audio available

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.

Photo Album
The Yorm Bopha Protests: 176 Days of Solidarity in Cambodia

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.

Human Rights 2012, The Year in Review

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.

2012 in Review: Land Grabbing, the Roots of Strife

February 12, 2013audio available

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.

Legal Persecution of Land Rights Activists Must End and Yorm Bopha Should be Released Immediately and Unconditionally

December 27, 2012audio available

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.

Briefing Paper
Profiles of Two Jailed Land Activists

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.