Buddhist monk finalist for award

Venerable Sovath, Photo: Licadho

Venerable Sovath, Photo: Licadho

Buddhist monk Venerable Luon Sovath is one of three finalists for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders. Venerable Sovath was nominated by Civil Rights Defenders along with WITNESS and Freedom House.

Venerable Sovath is recognized for his innovative tactics – including the use of video, songs and art – to provide persistent, non-violent leadership for communities facing forced eviction. Because of his dedicated work, he is threatened with violence, arrest and defrocking. His peaceful approach as a human rights defender is crucial in mobilizing grassroots communities to demand their rights.

“On behalf of Cambodia, I am happy to be nominated for this award,” said Venerable Luon Sovath. “I am also happy to see that Cambodia does have the support of the international community, who can truly help us achieve more rights and freedom, especially for poor communities that are having their homes forcibly taken by the government.”

According to local human rights groups, an estimated 400,000 Cambodians have been affected by forced evictions or land grabs since 2003 in the wake of ostensible development projects, land disputes and illegal land confiscation.

Venerable Sovath has been previously recognized by the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and in 2011, he received a Hellman/Hammett Award from Human Rights Watch. In 2010 Venerable Sovath also received the WITNESS “See It. Film It. Change It.” Award with WITNESS partner LICADHO.

Watch interviews of the Venerable Sovath talking about using video to document forced evictions in Cambodia: http://youtu.be/Necx7Q6aV9Y and http://youtu.be/F0bJ52cW-eg.

Created in 1993, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is granted annually to someone who has demonstrated an exceptional record of combating human rights violations by courageous and innovative means. The winner of the award is judged through a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations: Amnesty International; Diakonie Germany; Front Line Defenders; Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch; HURIDOCS; International Commission of Jurists; International Federation of Human Rights; International Service for Human Rights; World Organization Against Torture. For further details see www.martinennalsaward.org.

See the announcement live at 11am on 24 April at www.martinennalsaward.org. The final recipient of the award will be announced at a special ceremony on 2 October 2012.

Press release Martin Ennals Award

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Media Contacts:

Brittis Edman, Civil Rights Defenders, brittis.edman@civilrightsdefenders.org
J. Coco Chang, WITNESS, jcoco@witness.org
Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Freedom House, vaughn@freedomhouse.org

Categories: News.
Tags: Venerable Luon Sovath.
Regions: Cambodia.