Virak Ou

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Ou Virak
Ou Virak.png
Virak during the welcome speech at the Roundtable Discussion on Human Rights Defenders and Freedom of Expression, in 2012
Born (1976-01-07) January 7, 1976 (age 41)
Nationality Cambodian
Education California State University
Organization Cambodian Center for Human Rights
Known for Human rights activism
Awards Reebok Human Rights Award (2007)

Ou Virak (Khmer: អ៊ូ វីរៈ ) (born 7 January 1976) is a Cambodian human rights activist and intellectual, the President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights,[1] founder of the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC), and winner of the Reebok Human Rights Award for his civil society campaign for freedom of expression and for the release of human rights advocates imprisoned for criticizing the Cambodian government.[2]

Life under the Khmer Rouge[edit]

Born in Cambodia during the first year of Khmer Rouge rule, Virak's father - an officer in the army of the Lon Nol regime - was murdered by the Khmer Rouge before Virak was born. Virak lived through Khmer Rouge rule with his mother and four older brothers. Facing persecution during the occupation of Cambodia by Vietnam, they fled to refugee camps in Thailand before being granted refugee status and moving to Fresno, California in 1989 when Virak was 13.[2][3]

Life in the United States[edit]

Virak attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in Fresno, California. He overcame the hurdles of being a young migrant in the United States, and went on to study economics at California State University (receiving a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts). Whilst at university, he was Vice-President of the National Cambodian Student Association.

Human Rights in Cambodia[edit]

Working in law and public welfare, Virak then returned to Cambodia to lecture on economics at Pannasastra University, Phnom Penh. He joined the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) as Advocacy and Public Relations Director in 2005, and became its President in 2007. In 2007, he was the winner of the Reebok Human Rights Award for his civil society campaign for freedom of expression and for the release of human rights advocates imprisoned for criticizing the Cambodian government.[2]

Virak leads the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia (AFEC), working with other NGOs to promote and protect freedom of expression, information and assembly in Cambodia. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Cambodian NGO Working Group for establishing a National Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Human Rights Body, and represents this NGO Working Group to the Cambodian Joint Government-NGO Working Group for establishing a National Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Human Rights Body. Virak also represents the Cambodian NGO Working Group for establishing a National Human Rights Commission and ASEAN Human Rights Body to the Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "History", CCHR website: http://www.cchrcambodia.org/English/index.php
  2. ^ a b c "We are trying to change the law", Reebok Human Rights Award (2007), http://www.reebok.com/Static/global/initiatives/rights/awards/recipients/virak.html
  3. ^ Saavedra, Ernesto. "Fresno's Adopted Son, Virak Ou | Community Alliance". fresnoalliance.com. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  4. ^ "Affiliations and Cooperation", CCHR website: http://www.cchrcambodia.org/English/index.php

See also[edit]

External links[edit]