CAMBODIAN-AMERICAN POLITICAL PRISONER THEARY SENG BEGINS ONE-WEEK HUNGER STRIKE
Seng demands transfer to Phnom Penh prison and same rights as other prisoners, including access to Church services and phone calls
PREAH VIHEAR PRISON, CAMBODIA – Today, Theary Seng began a one-week hunger strike in the rural Preah Vihear Prison – where she was clandestinely sent a six-hour drive from Phnom Penh to keep her far away from her family, counsel, and supporters. Theary is calling upon authorities to transfer her immediately back to Prey Sar Prison in Phnom Penh. She is also demanding the same rights that other prisoners have but she has been repeatedly denied, including having weekly access to Church services and the ability to regularly make phone calls. Theary has been detained since June 14, 2022, following a sham mass trial that received an “F” grade from the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch Initiative. She was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for “conspiracy to commit treason” and “incitement to create gross chaos impacting public security” alongside dozens of other activists and political opposition leaders.
Theary’s parents were murdered by the Khmer Rouge and she was imprisoned in Cambodia as a young child. She escaped and fled to the U.S., where she obtained her bachelors’ and law degrees, before returning to Cambodia in 2004 to found two NGOs aimed at human rights and civic engagement.
Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, remarked “I met Theary in 2009, when she became lead educator for RFK Human Rights’ education program across Cambodia. She was deeply respected for her commitment to ending impunity, for holding dictator Hun Sen to account, and for courageously speaking truth to power. In retaliation, she lived under constant threat but was never been silent.” Jared Genser, Managing Director of Perseus Strategies, added “Theary’s courage, grace, and dignity in standing up to Hun Sen are an inspiration to her people.” And Margaux Ewen, Director of the Freedom House Political Prisoners Initiative, said: “Theary was convicted under provisions of the Cambodian Criminal Code that are routinely weaponized against human rights and democracy activists.”
Shortly after her conviction, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price noted, “All Cambodians should be able to exercise their human rights” and called upon Cambodian authorities to release “all those unjustly detained, including Theary Seng.” Likewise, Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, and Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy all urged Theary’s immediate and unconditional release. Later, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pressed Hun Sen in person in Phnom Penh on August 4 to release Theary and all activists detained on politically motivated charges.
From November 12-14, President Biden will attend the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and visit Phnom Penh, where he is expected to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen. Theary’s international team calls upon the President to press Hun Sen for Theary’s freedom – and freedom for all the political prisoners of Cambodia.
Perseus Strategies and RFK Human Rights serve as pro bono counsel to Theary Seng. Freedom House is also providing her with support.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Canada Day:
“Today, we celebrate the country we love, and the people we share it with. Canada is home to over 38 million people: Canadians who live in cities and towns – big and small; people who are indigenous to this land; and those who’ve been here for weeks, months, years, or for generations.“
Canada is strong because of our diversity. No matter what our faith is, where we were born, what colour our skin is, what language we speak, or who we love – we are all equal members of this great country.“
Today, we celebrate the place we all call home. I know for some, our country’s historic wrongs can make that difficult. But while we can’t change history, we can put in the work to build a better future; one that reflects our values of hope, resilience, kindness, respect, and generosity.
“Generation after generation, Canadians have shown that we can deliver on those values. We did it when we adopted our charter in 1982, we did it when we took care of each other during the pandemic, and we do it every day when we welcome refugees with open arms.
“Today is an opportunity for us all to recommit ourselves to those values – values that the Maple Leaf represents. Because our flag is more than a symbol, it’s also a promise. A promise of opportunity. A promise of safety for those fleeing violence and war. And a promise of a better life.
“As we come together today, let’s think about what this country means to us – and tomorrow, let’s challenge ourselves to find new ways to live up to the great promise of Canada.
Next month, Cambodia will hold elections for its 1,652 communes and sangkats, an event that normally foreshadows the result of the national elections held the following year. The June 5 polls will see about 9.2 million registered voters elect the chief and councilors from among more than 80,000 candidates belonging to 17 political parties.
But barring “genuine efforts toward democratization and political reform” by the the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)-controlled government, the election is likely to fall far short of being “fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, and peaceful,” the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) said in a pre-election analysis of the country’s political landscape and legal framework.
The analysis, based on more than 60 interviews with electoral stakeholders including representatives of civil society groups, political parties, the media, labor unions, academia, the diplomatic community, and international organizations, found that political repression and a restrictive legal framework have narrowed the country’s political space since the last commune elections in 2017.
“Overall, Cambodia still falls short of the standard of democratic elections according to ANFREL’s Dili Indicator for Democratic Elections,” the report concluded. “There will be no genuine and legitimate election outcome as long as threats against the opposition and civic society remain prevalent.”
The reasons adduced by ANFREL include the effective control by the CPP of the National Election Committee and other key state bodies and institutions; the sustained crackdowns on the political opposition, civil society groups, activists, and the independent media; and the CPP’s intimidation of opposition parties seeking to run in the upcoming elections. While the June 5 poll will involve more parties than participated in the last election in 2017, “many opposition candidates and members… continue to experience harassment and intimidation on the ground,” the report found.
Read detail in The Diplomate: https://thediplomat.com/2022/05/cambodia-polls-unlikely-to-be-credible-and-transparent-says-watchdog/
“The workers encourage the government to arrange voting at the embassy [in Bangkok],” Sophen said.
Civil society election observers have previously said that overseas Cambodians should be better enfranchised by creating mechanisms to allow them to participate in elections. Opposition politicians have suggested that the ruling party was dragging its feet because those voters would likely vote against the CPP.
Read details in VOD: https://vodenglish.news/hun-sen-rules-out-postal-voting-for-cambodia-during-his-us-tour/
Biography Documentation of Khmers Overseas Part I:
Mr. Marin Ngeth, Khmer-Canadian living in Calgary, Canada Saturday, March 26, 2022
១. តេីដឺស៊ីរ៉ក់ជាអ្វី? ដឺសេរ៉ក់ជាពាក្យកាត់ភាសាអង់គ្លេសដែលមានន័យថា គណកម្មាធិការដេីម្បីសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេស ជាអង្គការក្រៅរដ្ឋាភិបាល មិនស្វែងរកកម្រៃ មានទីស្នាក់ការធំនៅប្រទេសកាណាដា។ 1. What is the CEROC? The CEROC is an abbreviation of “Committee for Election Right of Overseas Cambodians”, is a non-governmental organization (NGO), non-profit orientation, and main office is based at Canada.
២. តេីដឺស៊ីរ៉ក់មានគំរោងដេីម្បីសំរេចយុទ្ធនាការរបស់ខ្លួនយ៉ាងណា? តាមរយះការចូលរួមពីប្រជាពលរដ្ឋកម្ពុជានិងមិត្តអ្នកស្រឡាញ់លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យទាំងអស់ យេីងកំពុងតំរង់ទិសដេីម្បីសម្រេចគោលដៅរួមតែមួយគឺសិទ្ធិមូលដ្ឋានរបស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ដែលកំពុងរស់នៅឯនាយសមុទ្របានចូលរួមបោះឆ្នោតនូវរាល់ការបោះឆ្នោតជាតិរបស់កម្ពុជា ដែលសិទ្វិនេះត្រូវបានធានាដោយរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញកម្ពុជានិងសេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍ជាសាកលស្តីពីសិទ្ធិមនុស្សរបស់អង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ។ យុទ្ធនាការចំបងរបស់យេីងគឺការផ្្តល់ចំណេះដឹងដល់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ ការស្នើរអោយរដ្ឋសភាធ្វើវិសោធនកម្មច្បាប់រដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញដោយនិយាយអោយច្បាស់ថាប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេសអាចមានសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតបាន និងបោះពុម្ពផ្សាយនានាទាក់ទងនឹងសិទ្ធិបោះឆ្នោតរបស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅប្រទេស។ 2. How does the CEROC plan to achieve this campaign? Through participation from all Cambodians and democratic friends around the globe, we are aiming to achieve the common goal: the basic right of all Cambodians overseas to vote in Cambodia elections, which are guaranteed by the Cambodia Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Our primary campaign is to provide well-informed education to all Cambodians, to propose Cambodia parliament to amend the laws to clearly state that Cambodians overseas have right to vote with Cambodia elections, and to disseminate information through publications relating to Absentee Overseas Voting (AOV).
៣. ហេតុអ្វីបានជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរដែលកំពុងរស់នៅក្រៅស្រុកត្រូវការសិទ្ធិដេីម្បីបោះឆ្នោត? តេីសិទ្ធិរបស់គេត្រូវបានដកហូតឬយ៉ាងណា? សិទ្វិដេីម្បីបោះឆ្នោតត្រូវបានធានាដោយរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញកម្ពុជានិងសេចក្តីថ្លែងការណ៍ជាសាកលស្តីពីសិទ្ធិមនុស្សរបស់អង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិ។ ក្រៅពីអារម្មណ៍ជាប់ជំពាក់មាតុភូមិកំណេីត ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរក្រៅប្រទេសបានទំនុកបំរុងទាំងសតិបញ្ញាស្មារតីនិងសំភារៈក្នុងដំណេីរការកសាងប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។ ក្នុងមួយឆ្នាំៗ ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅស្រុកបានផ្ញេីរលុយចូលទៅក្នុងប្រទេសកម្ពុជាមិនតិចជាង៥០០លានដុល្លាក្នុងរូបភាពជារូបីយប័ណ្ណអន្តរជាតិដេីម្បីអភិវឌ្ឍន៍សេដ្ឋកិច្ច។ តែផ្ទុយពីការគាំទ្រទាំងផ្នែកផ្លូវចិត្ត ផ្លូវកាយ និងហិរញ្ញវត្ថុ សិទ្ធិរបស់ពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនៅក្រៅស្រុកត្រូវបានគេដកហូតមិនអោយចូលរួមបោះឆ្នោតនូវរាល់ការបោះឆ្នោតនៅកម្ពុជា។ 3. Why do Khmers Overseas need right to vote? Has their right been distorted? Right to vote is guaranteed by the Cambodia Constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. Beside of the attachment feeling with their motherland, Cambodians overseas have helped both soft skill and hard skill in building the nation. Each year, Cambodians overseas have sent in remittance not less than 500 millions US dollar for country’s economic development. In contrasting of continuing spiritual, moral, and financial supports; right of Cambodians overseas have been deprived in each Cambodia election.