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Award for Boeung Kak lake activist

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Boeung Kak activist Tep Vanny speaks at a press conference near the Shukaku Inc development site in Phnom Penh in 2011. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

Boeung Kak lake land evictions protester Tep Vanny has been honoured for years of activism by receiving an award from an international organisation that recognises the role of women in promoting human rights.

Vanny, 32, who has been imprisoned, assaulted and threatened for fighting evictions at the now filled-in lake, will travel to the US in April to accept the award from the Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Vanny said yesterday that she was honoured to receive the recognition.

“I hope this award will further promote the work I’m doing,” she said.

“I’m certain it will inspire me to continue doing more work for our community and other vulnerable communities in Cambodia.”

Vital Voices Global Partnership grew out of Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, which current US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-founded in 1997.

Vanny was one of 13 women sentenced to two-and-a-half years in Prey Sar prison after a three-hour trial on May 24 over a demonstration at Boeung Kak.

The women’s release on June 27 came after a chorus of support for their freedom, which included Clinton in its midst.

“I’d like to thank Hillary Clinton for helping our community,” Vanny said yesterday. “This award shows the demands we’re making are legitimate.”

Vital Voices’letter to Vanny says her travel and accommodation will be paid for and the event will involve panel discussions, meetings with high-level officials and media interviews.

“Your unyielding commitment to the rights of your fellow citizens has had an enormous, transformative impact on your community and country,” the letter states.

“Your vision and innovative spirit set you apart as a global role model, and the significance of your work will be felt for generations to come.”

Vanny will be filmed in coming weeks for footage to be shown at the ceremony.

She has also been invited to the international Movies that Matter Festival 2013 in Amsterdam in March.

Vanny appears in one of the 70 human rights-themed films to be shown.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com
Khouth Sophak Chakrya at sophakchakrya.khouth@phnompenhpost.com

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