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Cambodia: Land rights activist and protest–song writer released on bail

martes 26 noviembre 2013 - 12:00am

Update 1 to Call to Action dated 14 October 2013 26 November 2013

PEN International welcomes the decision taken by the Supreme Court on 22 November 2013 to release on bail Cambodian land rights activist and protest-song writer Yorm Bopha pending a re-hearing of her case by the Court of Appeal. PEN International 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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Please send appeals:
• Welcoming the temporary release of Cambodian land rights activist and protest-song writer Yorm Bopha on 22 November 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 appeals to:

Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen
Office of the Prime Minister
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fax: + 855 23 360 666
Email: cppparty@gmail.com

Minister of Justice
Mr. H.E. Ang Vong Vathna,
No 240, Sothearos Blvd,
Phnom Penh, Cambodia,
Fax: 023 364119.
Email: moj@cambodia.gov.kh

Also please send copies to diplomatic representatives of Cambodia accredited to your country and to your country’s Embassy in Cambodia, if there is one.

**Please check with this office if sending appeals after 26 December 2013**

Background
According to the Phnom Penh Post, following the court hearing, Yorm Bopha said in a statement, “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,” she said, referring to two men wrongly imprisoned over the murder of union leader Chea Vichea.

“The Supreme Court should have dropped the charges against me.”

Imprisoned for 444 days,Yorm Bopha, a lands rights activist and protest-song writer, was 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 4 September 2012 and convicted of on 27 December 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 its instigator. PEN International believes these charges to be politically motivated, designed to prevent her activities on behalf of the Boeng Kak lake community, and is calling for her not to be returned to prison and for her acquittal of these charges.

During her incarceration Bopha has continued her activism, organising and defending her own and fellow prisoners’ rights. She has written protest lyrics to popular tunes, which have then been sung at demonstrations. She is also chronicling her daily experiences, which she hopes to publish in the future.

For further information, please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International WiPC, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER. Tel: +44 (0) 2074050338, Fax: +44(0) 2074050339. Email: Cathy.McCann@pen-international.org