14 April 2015

Cambodian Activists Released

By Juliette Rousselot
April 13, 2015

A Buddhist monk is detained by Cambodian police officers during a protest, calling the court to release seven detained protesters, in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, in Phnom Penh November 11, 2014.

Ten land rights activists from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake receive a royal pardon. 
After a lawyer and lawmaker for Cambodia’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) announced that negotiations between the ruling party and the CNRP had taken place over the release of imprisoned activists and opposition politicians, ten land rights activists from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake received a royal pardon and were released from prison on Saturday afternoon.

Speaking from Boeung Kak Lake upon her release from prison, Tep Vanny, one of the imprisoned activists and one of the most prominent land rights activists in Cambodia, said “I have two feelings right now: I am happy that I am free and that I can be with my family, but I am also hurt because I am innocent and politicians have used us for political ends. I will keep protesting in the future.”

The news of their release was also welcomed by human rights organizations, who have been campaigning for the activists’ release and who had criticized their initial conviction. Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in an email that the organization was “very pleased to learn this news. [They] should never have been arrested in the first place. That they have had to endure imprisonment since November 2014 only for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly is appalling.

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