The Harassment of Tep Vanny, in Defense of Her Community Around the Lake

Boeung Kak Lake, or what used to be the largest body of water in the city at the center of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, is now gone. Over the past years, the lake has been filled completely with sand. Unfortunately, the lake is part of a development project to establish new condominiums and office buildings, which led to its ultimate destruction. The construction of the project started in 2007 and thousands of families have been illegally evicted, which turned the Boeung Kak area to a focal point for human rights defenders in Cambodia.
Tep Vanny who is a housing and land rights activist is one of those defenders. Vanny has spent the past decade defending her community around the lake peacefully. Her resistance to the construction work that is destroying the lives of the inhabitants around the lake has never been associated with violence. However, she has been a target of the authority showering her with political criminal charges as she has been arrested at least five times in the past four years. Moreover, she has been harassed and beaten. Vanny is one of 20 human rights defenders that are currently behind bars in this country, which we all should be calling for their release.



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