October 6, 2012
Dear Friends of Cambodia,
1,000 Cambodians inside and outside of Cambodia signed this petition in just 7 days!
We continue to seek one goal: Free and fair elections so that Cambodia’s democracy can be put back on track.
We’re asking all Friends of Cambodia to be part of the 2,000 to ask President Obama to put conditions to his trip to Cambodia this November, as a result of the on-going events that continue to stifle the Cambodian people’s fundamental rights and freedoms:
Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia
The UN’s Special Rapporteur, Surya P. Subedi, stated in his 2012 report on Human Rights in Cambodia that reforms must be made to ensure that the upcoming elections are “free and fair” since the National Election Committee (NEC) “continues to be dominated by supporters of the ruling party.” Please see this link for the full July 2012 report.
On October 1st, after a trial riddled with irregularities, Beehive Radio owner and President of the Association of Democrats, Mam Sonando, was charged by the Cambodian courts to serve 20 years in prison as a result of a broadcast which criticized the Cambodian government. Beehive Radio is one of the only independent sources of news in Cambodia. Click here for more information about Mam Sonando’s controversial sentence.
Tep Vanny, a resident of the Boeung Kak Lake community, was one of the 15 activists arrested earlier this year during a peaceful protest in Phnom Penh against a land eviction which displaced their families. She was sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison. Although the women were eventually released after an appeal, their criminal charge was never dropped. For more information about the Boeung Kak 13, click here.
In 2010, Sam Rainsy, former head of the Sam Rainsy Party and current president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was sentenced to 10 years in prision for uprooting markers along the border of Vietnam in response to an ongoing land dispute. As the head of Cambodia’s main opposition, Rainsy, currently exiled in France, has been subject to assassination attempts, threats, intimidation, criminal cases, and civil court cases (Link).
In April of this year prominent activist and director of the National Resources Protection Group, Chut Wutty, was shot and killed during an investigation into an alledged illegal logging case. The provincial court concluded the murder trial abruptly without a full probe into the killing (Link).
Since 2003, over 400,000 Cambodians have been affected by land disputes. Land is taken from residents and handed over to privately owned firms in often controversial and violent transactions. In May of this year, Hun Sen supposedly signed a ban on all future land concessions. However, in the following month, he signed off on a further 44,000 hectares of land (Link).
We ask President Obama to support free and fair elections.
You can be part of saving Cambodia’s democracy.