Six youth environmental activists have been wrongfully imprisoned in retaliation for their peaceful environmental activism. The activists are members of Mother Nature Cambodia, a well-known environmental group that campaigns against environmental destruction and related human rights abuses. In Cambodia, environmental activists face severe threats and repression from private companies and the authorities, in retaliation for protecting the environment, advocating for climate justice, and promoting the rights of Indigenous communities.
- Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on August 25, 2021.
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Prime Minister Hun Sen
Office of the Prime Minister
Jok Dimitrov Boulevard Phnom Penh,
H.E. Mr. Chum Sounry
Royal Embassy of Cambodia
4530 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20011
Phone: 202 726 7742
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,
I am writing to express my grave concern on the ongoing crackdown on environmental activists affiliated with Mother Nature Cambodia. Six youth activists – Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey, Thun Ratha, Sun Ratha, Ly Chandaravuth, and Yim Leanghy
– are wrongfully imprisoned because of their peaceful environmental activism. These youths have been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.
I am aware that Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey and Thun Ratha were arrested and have been detained since September 2020, simply for announcing their plan to undertake a peaceful march to raise concerns over the planned privatization of the Boeung Tamok lake. They were later convicted under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code on May 5, 2021 and sentenced to between 18 to 20 months in prison.
Sun Ratha, Ly Chandaravuth and Yim Leanghy were arrested on June 16, 2021 while two of them were investigating river pollution in the Tonle Sap river. They were charged variously with “plotting” and “insulting the King”, under articles 453 and 437 (bis) of the Criminal Code, which carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years and 5 years, respectively, and sent to pre-trial detention.
All six are now being held in overcrowded prison cells in which their human rights, health and safety continue to be put at risk. Amnesty International has repeatedly raised concerns regarding overcrowding, poor conditions, and human rights abuses in Cambodian prisons. The organization has most recently raised concerns
about Covid-19 outbreaks in many prisons, which are putting all prisoners at additional risk.
As you know, Cambodia is well-known for its precious natural resources including rainforests and lakes, and the preservation of these resources is vital both for the protection of the human rights of local communities, and to advance climate justice. The efforts of these brave young human rights defenders should be recognized and supported, not criminalized and punished.
I therefore urge you, Prime Minster Hun Sen, to take all necessary measures in order to:
- Ensure the pardon & immediate release of Long Kunthea, Phuon Keoraksmey, Thun Ratha, from prison & quash their convictions.
- Drop all charges against Sun Ratha, Ly Chandaravuth & Yim Leanghy & ensue their immediate release from prison.
- Pending their release, ensure that they are protected from all forms of ill-treatment & provided access to adequate healthcare.
- End the harassment, intimidation and persecution of Mother Nature Cambodia & all environmental activists & groups & provide adequate support & protection to those working on defending the environment in Cambodia.