Friday, January 13, 2006

Joint Statement on the Arrests of Human Right Activists


We, the under-signed members of Cambodian NGOs and civil society, deeply regret the arrest and detention of Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Kem Sokha, Community Legal Education Center director Yeng Virak, and Cambodian Center for Human Rights deputy president Pa Nguon Teang, on charges of defamation.

The arrests relate to the celebrations held in Phnom Penh to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2005, which were attended by more than 10,000 people. This rare and important event was authorized by the government and organized by NGOs and other civil society organizations. The authorization and support for this mass gathering of people seemed to be a positive step to promote human rights in Cambodia. Therefore, we are deeply disappointed by the subsequent arrests of Kem Sokha, Yeng Virak, and Pa Nguon Teang, which have created fear within civil society and the public, restricted freedom of expression, and set back human rights in Cambodia.

The arrests were in connection with the displaying of a banner at the December 10 celebrations which contained hand-written comments by Cambodian citizens expressing their opinions. The free and public expression of opinions, including those which are critical of the government and its leaders, is a fundamental human right and an essential feature of any truly democratic country.

Although the government has publicly stated that it still respects freedom of expression, it has used criminal defamation complaints to prevent debate on a particular political issue. We are concerned that defamation charges may continue to be used to arrest individuals who dare to express their opinions, and that citizens will become increasingly afraid to exercise their freedom of expression.

Cambodian NGOs and associations appeal to the government to acknowledge the important role civil society organizations and citizens have in developing Cambodia into a modern progressive country. Furthermore, we urge the authorities to release and drop all charges against Kem Sokha, Yeng Virak, Pa Nguon Teang, Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun and to discontinue any plans for similar arrests and prosecutions of other activists.
We welcome the release on bail of Yeng Virak on January 11, and we hope that all charges will be dropped against him and the other four individuals.

Phnom Penh, 12 January 2006

Names of Cambodian organizations, associations and coalitions signing this joint statement:

1 - Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM Cambodia)
2 - Cambodian Association for Informal Economy Development (CAID)
3 - Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)
4 - Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children's Rights (CCPCR)
5 - Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW)
6 - Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP)
7 - Cambodian Health and Human Rights Alliance (CHHRA)
8 - Cambodian Independent Of Civil Servants Association (CICA)
9 - Cambodian Independent Teachers' Association (CITA)
10 - Cambodian Labor Organization (CLO)
11 - Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)
12 - Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF)
13 - Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC)
14 - Center for Social Development (CSD)
15 - Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU)
16 - Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
17 - Community Legal Education Center (CLEC)
18 - Democratic Independent Solidarity Union Federation (DISUF)
19 - Disability Action Council (DAC)
20 - Human Rights and Community Outreach Projects (OUTREACH)
21 - Indradevi Association (IDA)
22 - Informal Development Economic Association (IDEA)
23 - Khmer Kampuchea Krom Coordination Committee (KKKCC)
24 - Khmer Kampuchea Krom for Human Rights and Development Association (KKKHRDA)
25 - Khmer Kampuchea Krom Human Rights Organization (KKKHRO)
26 - Khmer Student Association (KSA)
27 - Khmer Youth Association (KYA)
28 - Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC)
29 - Mission of Generous Cambodian Alliance (GENEROUS)
30 - Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (NICFEC)
31 - Open Forum of Cambodia
32 - Star Kampuchea
33 - Strey Khmer
34 - Student Movement for Democracy (SMD)
35 - The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
36 - The Cambodian Human Rights Task Force (CHRTF)
37 - Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC)

International civil society organizations and coalitions supporting this joint statement

We, the under-signed international civil society organizations, are deeply concerned by the recent arrests of human rights activists and support in solidarity the above statement of our Cambodian partner organizations

1 - Action Aid International (AAI)
2 - American Center for Internatiional Labor Solidarity (ACILS)
3 - Caritas Cambodia
4 - Concern Worldwide (CONCERN)
5 - Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)
6 - Dan Church Aid (DCA)
7 - Development and Partnership In Action (DPA)
8 - Diakonia
9 - East West Management Institute-Program on Rights and Justice (EWMI-PRAJ)
10 - Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ)
12 - Forum Syd
13 - German Agro Action (GAA)
14 - Global Witness (GW)
15 - Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF)
16 - Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC)
17 - Inter Church Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO)
18 - International Institute of the IOGT-NTO Movement
19 - International Republican Institute (IRI)
20 - National Democratic Institute (NDI)
21 - NGO Forum on Cambodia
22 - Norwegian People's Aid (NPA)
23 - Oxfam America
24 - Oxfam Australia
25 - Oxfam GB
26 - Oxfam Netherlands (NOVIB)
27 - PACT Cambodia
28 - Servants to Asia's Urban Poor (SERVANTS)
29 - The Asia Foundation (TAF)
30 - Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
31 - Wild Aid
32 - World Hope International (WHI)
33 - World Vision Cambodia (WVC)

The following individuals, who are staff of Cambodian or international organizations, also wish to express their support for this joint statement:

1- Am Sam Ath

156 – Yun Phally

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

an updated list of this statement can be found on (scroll down or follow the left column link) -- 38 local organizations/38 international organizations