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Vigil held for imprisoned activist Tep Vanny

Tep Vanny’s daughter Kong Panha (left) stands with a photograph at a candelight vigil held to protest the Boeung Kak activist’s year of detention.
Tep Vanny’s daughter Kong Panha (left) stands with a photograph at a candlelight vigil held to protest the Boeung Kak activist’s year of detention. Pha Lina

Vigil held for imprisoned activist Tep Vanny

Boueng Kak lake residents yesterday held a candlelight vigil to mark one year since fellow activist Tep Vanny was detained by law enforcement for holding a cursing ceremony at the same location.

The ceremony last year was part of a “Black Monday” protest calling for the release of the so-called “Adhoc 5”, and since her arrest then, Vanny has seen three additional cases resurrected against her, the latest one involving a 30-month sentence for allegedly instigating violence at a protest in 2013. The ruling was upheld by the Appeal Court last week.

Lake residents yesterday used candles and lotus flowers to spell out “Free Tep Vanny”, and wore homemade headbands bearing her picture as monks led the nearly 60 residents and civil society members in prayers. Large banners called for Vanny’s release from an “unjust imprisonment”.

“We demand the release of Tep Vanny,” said Bov Sophea, who was also convicted in the cursing case. “Because [the authorities] want to shut down her freedom, and only dig up old cases that happened long ago.”

Earlier in the day, activists also submitted petitions to various embassies, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, European Union and Japan, asking for their intervention in the case. None of the embassies responded to requests for comment.

United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith also attended the vigil and informed Boeung Kak residents that she had met Vanny at Prey Sar prison yesterday and would raise her case at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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