Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Yorm Bopha ready to step to fore again

Yorm Bopha ready to step to fore again

Yorm Bopha ready to step to fore again

With Tep Vanny and other Boeung Kak activists back in prison, Yorm Bopha is again ready to lead her community’s fight for justice.

“I feel worried – scared – about being re-arrested … but we need to do this,” she said yesterday. “I am ready to be imprisoned again if they want to arrest and charge me unjustly.”

Bopha, a land-rights activist who spent more than a year in prison after her arrest in September 2012, missed the protests this week that have led to 10 activists and one monk being rounded up and swiftly sentenced to one year in prison. Two other monks have been arrested and charged.

The trials took place as authorities stepped up pressure on the opposition party, arresting two Cambodia National Rescue Party officials and denying bail to a third on charges related to violent protests in July.

Even though she has an unfinished court case hanging over her head, Bopha said she is already filling in the hole left by the imprisonment of her community’s most strident protesters, including Vanny, Nget Khun and Song Srey Leap.

“Right now, we are making a new strategy for demonstrations, calling for the government to release all our members.”

Like other events this week, Bopha’s words evoke memories of May 2012, when the imprisonment of the protesters who became known as the “Boeung Kak 13” quickly made her the community’s de facto leader.

Suddenly thrust to the front and centre, Bopha called for the release of those women, speaking out against the government and squaring off against security personnel. For her efforts, she was threatened and warned that her name was on a government “list”, something that effectively foretold her arrest.

While the 13 women were released in June 2012, Bopha was jailed that September, accused of masterminding an axe attack on two men.

Next week will be a year since she was freed. The Supreme Court ordered a retrial of her case, but that has yet to happen. Concerns that it suddenly will are something Bopha has pushed aside.

“[Today], we will take a petition to the National Assembly,” she said. “We also plan to gather outside Prey Sar prison to tell those women we will not forget them.”

Although Bopha has protested many times since her release – and even been arrested again – her former husband Lous Sakhorn is cautious about her plans in the current climate.

“We have to take care, especially for our son,” he said.

But Ee Sarom, executive director of NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said he does not expect more arrests.

“There were not many protesters in front of court [on Wednesday],” he said. “Maybe authorities will see that as success.”

Sarom added, though, that protests will continue today. “They are not changing tactics. The community members are not scared.”


  • Cambodia-Thailand rail reconnected after 45 years

    A railway reconnecting Cambodia and Thailand was officially inaugurated on Monday following a 45-year hiatus, with the two kingdoms’ prime ministers in attendance at the ceremony. On the occasion, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha travelled together from Thailand’s

  • Thousands attend CNRP-organised pro-democracy vigil in South Korea

    Thousands of supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Saturday gathered in the South Korean city of Gwangju to hold a candlelight demonstration calling for the “liberation” of democracy in Cambodia. Yim Sinorn, a CNRP member in South Korea, said on

  • US Embassy: Chinese trade does not help like the West’s

    The US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday said relations between China and Cambodia did not create jobs or help industry when compared to the trade between the Kingdom and the US. “About 87 per cent of trade [with China] are Chinese imports, which do not

  • New airport study set for 2019

    A feasibility study on the construction of a new airport in the Kingdom will be launched later this year, according to a Ministry of Tourism spokesman on Monday. The plan was approved last week in a meeting held by the Ministry of Economy and Finance