Cambodian Land Rights Activist and Protest-Songwriter Released on Bail
PEN International welcomes the decision taken by Cambodia’s Supreme Court on November 22, 2013, to release on bail Yorm Bopha, a Cambodian land rights activist and protest-songwriter, pending a re-hearing of her case by the Court of Appeal. PEN believes the charges against her to be politically motivated, and calls on the Court of Appeal to act swiftly and independently to review Bopha’s case and ensure that she no longer risks imprisonment.
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Yorm Bopha, a land rights activist and protest-songwriter, was imprisoned for 444 days while serving a two-year sentence on charges of “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” under Article 218 of the Cambodian Criminal Code. Bopha was arrested and charged with ordering an attack on two motorbike taxi drivers on September 4, 2012, and was convicted on December 27, 2012. In June 2013, the Court of Appeal reduced her sentence to two years after ruling that she was not the direct perpetrator of the assault, but rather its instigator. PEN believes these charges to be politically motivated, designed to prevent her activities on behalf of the Boeng Kak lake community; we urge that she not be returned to prison, and that she be fully acquitted of these charges. According to the Phnom Penh Post, Yorm Bopha made the following statement after the court hearing:
Even though the Supreme Court is releasing me, they still consider me guilty. I’m scared they will arrest me again—just like they did with Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [two men wrongly imprisoned over the murder of union leader Chea Vichea].… The Supreme Court should have dropped the charges against me.
During her incarceration, Bopha has continued her activism, organizing and defending her own and fellow prisoners’ rights. She has written protest lyrics to the tune of popular songs, which have been sung at demonstrations. She is also chronicling her daily experiences, which she hopes to publish in the future.
Write A Letter
- Welcoming the temporary release of Cambodian land rights activist and protest song writer Yorm Bopha on November 22, 2013;
- Urging the Court of Appeal to carry out a swift and independent review of Bopha’s case;
- Calling for Bopha not to be re-imprisoned and for all charges against her to be dropped.
Send Your Letter To
Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen
Office of the Prime Minister
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fax: (+855) 23-360-666
Mr. H.E. Ang Vong Vathna
Minister of Justice
No 240, Sothearos Blvd
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fax: 023 364119
Also please send copies to the diplomatic representatives of Cambodia in your country and to your country's Embassy in Cambodia, if possible.
**Please check with PEN if sending appeals after December 26, 2013**