WITNESS Condemns Threats to Cambodia’s Venerable Luon Sovath
WITNESS has joined 15 other NGO’s to condemn the charges brought by the Cambodian government against human rights activist Venerable Luon Sovath.
He faced trial November 25 in what we believe is a flawed process aimed at silencing him.
As we explain in the letter:
Since 2009 and at great risk for his personal security, Venerable Sovath has taken active part in representing and supporting communities and human rights defenders across Cambodia. He has used essays, poetry, songs, and videography, to raise awareness for victims of human rights abuses.
Since that time, the Cambodian judiciary has brought various felony “incitement” charges against Venerable Sovath for his work with communities facing forced evictions. Additionally, Buddhist Supreme Patriarch Non Nget banned Venerable Sovath from all pagodas, claiming that he “violated” religious policies.
WITNESS first met Venerable Sovath at our trainings with Cambodian activists on the issue of forced evictions. Since that time, the Venerable has become known as the “multimedia monk”, using video, images and music to support the land rights of his village as well as other villages and communities across the country. He often shoots footage, does a quick edit on his laptop and then burns the footage onto a DVD to be distributed to local villages.
As the Venerable said back in 2010 when he won WITNESS’ See it. Film it. Change it.
“Communities facing forced eviction are now using cameras in their struggle. We have been threatened, but we won’t stop — because these images tell the truth.”
Image: Venerable Luon Sovath shooting video with activists in Cambodia.