Global NGOs Call for the Release of Cambodian Land Rights Activist Tep Vanny

At least 65 civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) from across the world have already signed a unity statement urging the Cambodian government to release land rights activist Tep Vanny, who has been in detention for the past 12 months.

Tep Vanny is a prominent human rights activist who has been campaigning on behalf of marginalized farmers and displaced small landholders in Cambodia. She was arrested last August 2016 for leading the ‘Black Monday’ protest which was organized to call for the release of five human rights defenders accused of interfering in a government case involving an opposition leader.

The court convicted Tep Vanny of “insulting a public official” and sentenced her to six days in prison. But during her detention, the government revived a 2013 case against her when she led a protest in front of the prime minister’s house over the eviction of Boeung Kak Lake residents. A government reclamation project in Boeung Kak Lake, located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, has displaced thousands of residents living around the area.

On February 23, 2017, Tep Vanny was found guilty of committing “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” during the 2013 protest, and she received a prison sentence of two years and six months.

On August 8, 2017, the court affirmed the decision to convict Tep Vanny. It was also reported that Tep Vanny could face a third trial for another revived case related to a 2011 protest in a Boeung Kak Lake community.