Cambodian multimedia monk gets human rights prize

The Cambodian human rights defender, and monk, Venerable Luon Sovath has been awarded this year’s prestigious Martin Ennals Award (MEA). He is also known as the “multimedia monk” for his innovative methods in the fight against forced evictions.

Venerable Luon Sovath Photo: Jeff Vize/Licadho

Venerable Sovath’s blend of tradition and modern technology is what makes him special as a human rights defender, and has been instrumental in his successful support to villages and neighborhoods at risk of forced eviction. Via his blog and other social media he reports on acute events – always with his camera, mobile phone and computer at hand.

Cambodian authorities have long tried to suppress Venerable Sovath and threatened to deprive him of his monk status. He has been arrested several times, received death threats and exclusion from many pagodas in the capital Phnom Penh. But his human rights struggle continues.

Forced evictions is a huge human rights problem in Cambodia, where about 60,000 people were forced from their homes only during 2011, according to the local human rights group ADHOC. Human rights defenders who, like Venerable Sovath try to provide support to vulnerable groups risk imprisonment, violence and persecution.

Four years ago, Venerable Sovath saw his brother and his kids getting shot at by the Cambodian police during an eviction attempt. He documented atrocities against the unarmed peasants with his mobile phone camera, and managed to get national and international attention to the situation.

Civil Rights Defenders, Freedom House and Witness nominated Venerable Sovath for MEA for his courage and innovative activism.

The award ceremony will be held Tuesday, October 2 at 18.00 hours in the Victoria Hall, Geneva, and streamed live on www.martinennalsaward.org

Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is awarded annually to someone who has demonstrated the ability to combat human rights abuses in a courageous and innovative way. The winner is chosen through a unique collaboration between ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Diakonia Germany, Frontline Defenders, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, HURIDOCS, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights, International Service for Human Rights, World Organization Against Torture. Read more www.martinennalsaward.org.

For more information about the situation in Cambodia – read the news on Oct. 1:
20 years in prison for Cambodian journalist

For more information contact:
Brittis Edman, Program Director for Southeast Asia, +46-709-89 00 19

Categories: Statements.