Tep Vanny has been imprisoned in Cambodia three times simply for protesting against the demolition of her home to make way for a luxury development.

Tep has been peacefully protesting against the destruction of her community for over 10 years. In response she has been viciously targeted by the authorities, harassed, beaten, arrested and imprisoned.

She is now in jail for the third time. Tell the Prime Minister of Cambodia he must drop all charges and release Vanny immediately.

Free Tep Vanny: Jailed for defending her home

The situation

'Even when she was beaten in protests, she would join the next day. If anyone is in trouble my daughter will support them for justice. She is so brave. My daughter cannot be bought. She stands firm and would not give up.'

Tep Vanny’s mother is deeply proud of her daughter’s activism. But these days she rarely gets to see her.

That’s because Vanny has been in prison for over a year, simply for standing up against a luxury construction project in her village that’s seen thousands of families lose their homes.

She was arrested on 17 August 2016 and sentenced to spend two and a half years in Prey Sar prison. She was also fined the equivalent of £2,600 — around twice the yearly minimum wage in Cambodia.

This is the third time she has been jailed just for defending her home.

Defending Boeung Kak lake

There’s nothing left of Boeung Kak — a lake in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh where a huge luxury construction project has seen whole communities illegally evicted.

Tep Vanny is one of 13 women who have been organising peaceful protests against the development since the project began in 2007. Since then she’s been repeatedly harassed, beaten, arrested five times and sent to prison three times on politically motivated charges.

She has argued that there was no real evidence to prove the charges brought against her. Despite many appeals, her conviction and 30-month prison sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court on 7 February 2018.

She is not a criminal. She is a human rights defender. All she has done is peacefully protest the right of her community to live where they’ve called home for generations.

Family and friends left behind

The other women who’ve stood by Vanny’s side for so long miss her terribly — they even say they wish they were in jail by her side.

She also has two young children – a 12-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy – who are suffering without their mother. Her family only get to see her a couple of days a month, and only if various payments are paid to shady prison guards.

'Tep Vanny is innocent. She is a woman who is greatly committed to fulfilling her duty as a citizen. Yet, she has been imprisoned three times already, because of the Cambodian judicial system,' said Song Sreyleap, a fellow Boeung Kak Lake community activist. 

'Tep Vanny is the only woman activist in Cambodia who has been imprisoned and arrested so many times. This is very unjust for her; her children have to live without the mother’s care for one year. However, even with all the threats, her will remains unchanged.'

Join us and stand up against this awful assault on human rights. Demand Tep Vanny’s freedom today.

Tep Vanny is part of our Brave campaign, campaigning for the increased recognition and protection of human rights defenders.

 

Government crackdown

The Cambodian government uses the law to silence human rights defenders. Thanks to its tight grip on the criminal justice system, authorities continue to bring trumped up charges against anyone in their way, including political opponents, trade union activists, human rights defenders, and political commentators.

The crackdown is getting worse ahead of the country’s elections coming up in July this year. 20 human rights defenders and political activists are currently behind bars. Hundreds more face jail time, often left in limbo with criminal charges hanging over them for months or even years, not knowing when they’ll finally face trial. 

Corruption is so bad that the legal process itself is often the punishment. 

64 civil society organisations have called for Vanny’s release and for an end to Cambodia’s ruthless assault on human rights defenders in general.

Join us and stand up against this awful assault on human rights. Demand Tep Vanny’s freedom today.