Yorm Bopha

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Yorm Bopha
Born c. 1983
Nationality Cambodian
Known for activism against Boeung Kak development, 2012 imprisonment

Yorm Bopha (born c. 1983)[1] is a Cambodian land rights activist noted for her opposition to development around Boeung Kak lake. She was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for "intentional violence with aggravating circumstances" on 27 December 2012,[2] leading several human rights groups to protest on her behalf.[3]

Boeung Kak project[edit]

In 2007, Shukaku, a company owned by a senator of the Cambodian People's Party, won a 99-year lease to develop the area around the lake. Developers began pumping sand into the lake, and in 2011, a BBC reporter described what was once Phnom Penh's biggest lake as having shrunk to "little more than a puddle".[4] According to Amnesty International, more than 20,000 residents were displaced by the development.[5] In 2011, the World Bank suspended aid to Cambodia until the situation was resolved.[4]

Yorm Bopha was active in protests supporting residents' land rights. In 2012, she led a campaign for the freedom of thirteen women sentenced to prison for their role in one of the protests.[6]

2012 assault conviction[edit]

On 28 December 2012, Yorm Bopha was convicted of "intentional violence with aggravating circumstances", following an incident in August of that year in which she allegedly assaulted two taxi drivers.[2][7] Riot police surrounded the courthouse as she was sentenced, using electric batons to hold back protestors.[8] Yorm Bopha later protested the judgement, saying, "This is injustice in the money-and-dollar society."[8] Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, stated, "I think with this case the court is trying to stop land protests."[8]

Amnesty International called the charges "fabricated", designated her and fellow convicted activist Tim Sakmony as prisoners of conscience, and stated that the two were "being persecuted purely for their work defending the rights of those in their communities who have lost their houses through forced evictions".[5] The World Organisation Against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights released a joint statement calling for the pair's "immediate and unconditional release and the lift of pending charges, as their detention and judicial harassment seem to merely aim at obstructing their human rights activities and appear to be a result of them exercising their right to freedoms of expression and association".[2]

On March 27, 2013, the Cambodian Supreme Court denied Bopha’s request for bail pending her appeal.[9] In June 2013, a Court of Appeals upheld Bopha's conviction but reduced her sentence to two years.[10] On November 22, 2013, the Supreme Court released Bopha on bail, ordering that her case be further investigated and re-tried.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Yorm Bopha is married to fellow activist Lours Sakhorn.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Shane Worrell (26 December 2012). "Land activists targeted, rights groups say". Phnom Penh Post. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Cambodia: Ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Yorm Bopha and Ms. Tim Sakmony". International Federation for Human Rights. 21 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Liam Cochrane (21 December 2012). "Human rights advocates keeping close eye on Cambodian courts". Radio Australia. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Guy De Launey (14 August 2011). "Cambodia lake battle: How Boeung Kak became a puddle". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Convictions of activists in Cambodia demonstrates dire state of justice". Amnesty International. 27 December 2012. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Morm Moniroth and Sok Serey (27 December 2012). "Cambodian Courts Under Fire". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Khuon Narim and Simon Lewis (2 January 2013). "Jailed Activist Writes Songs for Freedom". Cambodia Daily. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Heng Reaksmey and Say Mony (28 December 2012). "Housing Activists Sentenced to Three Years Each in Prison". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Tim Phillips, "Outspoken Land Rights Activist Yorm Bopha Denied Bail", Activist Defense, March 30, 2013.
  10. ^ Tim Phillips, "Court Upholds Conviction of Land Rights Activist Yorm Bopha, but Reduces Her Sentence", Activist Defense, June 19, 2013.
  11. ^ Tim Phillips, "Cambodian Land Rights Activist Yorm Bopha to be Released on Bail", Activist Defense, November 22, 2013.