Paris Peace Accords 23 Oct. 1991

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Who are Cambodia's Adhoc 5 activists?

Kambodscha FreeThe5KH campaign (A. Hoekstra)

Who are Cambodia's Adhoc 5 activists?

Cambodian authorities have intensified a crackdown on activists. Five prominent rights defenders, who have been languishing in jail since last year, are now nominated for the Martin Ennals Award. Who are they?

Deutsche Welle | 28 April 2017

When Nay Vanda gave up his job as an English professor in 2008, he did so because he wanted to defend the rights of his fellow countrymen. He joined Adhoc, Cambodia's oldest human rights organization.

But it's been one year since Vanda was incarcerated along with three of his colleagues and Ny Chakrya, the deputy secretary general of Cambodia's National Election Committee. The Adhoc 5 - the name given to the five detainees - are accused of bribing a witness. Their detention, which was extended to another six months earlier this week, is widely seen as politically motivated.

The problems for the Adhoc 5 started in March last year, when recordings of an intimate conversation between Cambodia's opposition leader Kem Sokha and Khom Chandaraty, believed to be Sokha's hairdresser, were leaked. Chandaraty initially denied any involvement but later acknowledged she had an affair with the president of the Cambodian National Rescue Party, claiming Sokha had promised to pay her $3,000 (2,756 euros). The "prostitution" allegations gave a bizarre twist to the case.

Later, Chandaraty accused Adhoc officials of forcing her to lie about the affair. The authorities quickly arrested the Adhoc 5, accusing four of them of bribing the witness, and Chakrya as their accomplice.

Their arrest led to serious criticism as many Cambodians have great respect for the work Adhoc has been doing since the 1990s.

Kambodscha Phnom Penh Protest Demonstration Regierung Zwangsräumung Evakuierung (Reuters) Rights groups slam Cambodian authorities for targeting activists and political opponents

"The detained activists defend the marginalized people and have contributed immensely to improve human rights in Cambodia. They have risked their lives to defend others," a campaigner belonging to the FreeThe5KH group told DW on condition of anonymity.

FreeThe5KH calls for the release of Vanda and his colleagues. The group has asked Cambodians to show solidarity with the activists by displaying pictures of the detained activists on social media.

Political prisoners

In December last year, the case took an unexpected turn when Sokha received a royal pardon at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen. After being holed up in his office for months, the opposition leader was finally free. A pardon for the Adhoc 5 was also expected, but the judge denied their request for bail, saying the investigation had not been completed.

Thiev Mey, Vanda's wife, told DW the five activists were facing a difficult time in prison. She visits her husband three times a week.

"He is kept in a small room that he shares with 25 prisoners. If he wants to rest, he has to lie on the floor. The cell has unhygienic conditions. The prisoners don't even have enough water to take a bath," she said.

Kambodscha Premierminister Hun Sen (Imago/Xinhua) Sokha received a royal pardon at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen

In an email to DW, Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the Cambodian government was using the long pre-trial detention to punish the Adhoc 5 for their work and to intimidate others who wish to speak out.

"There is really no 'investigation' going on, but that is the court's lame justification for holding them," Robertson said.
According to the human rights group, Licadho, there are at least 27 political prisoners in Cambodia.

Robertson says Hun Sen's government has been cracking down on critics since the 2013 parliamentary elections, which saw the ruling party lose a large number of seats, albeit it still controls the judiciary.

"The government is using completely bogus charges to haul rights activists and send them to prison through trials that are neither free nor fair," Robertson underlined.

Earlier this week, the five activists were nominated for the Martin Ennals Award, an international accolade given to human rights activists whose lives are at risk.

The nomination is prestigious but Thiev Mey only wants her husband out of jail. "I only want him to be free from harm."


  1. Anonymous2:33 AM

    Adhoc group did not defend Boeung Kak lake protestors, especially Tep Vanny. But they were trying to protect Kem Sokha by messing around with the key witness. That's why they went to jail.

    Please, they should defend people like Chut Wutty and other more worthy activists. But no, they were trying to defend Kem Sokha who turned out has been working with Mr. Hun Sen after all.

    Shame on the Adhoc. You go to jail for defending Kem Sokha who just wanted to have sex with young girls at his daughter's age. That's sick. And he betrayed you by working with Mr. Hun Sen. That's sad.

  2. Anonymous3:12 AM

    Anonymous2:33 AM is a Vietnamese dog eater named Drgunzet. This Vietcong dog eater is not a human because he likes to bite people when he has no feeling to the pains of people. That is why this Vietcong or Yuon dog eater Drgunzet like other old Vietcong bitches in Southern Vietnam (former Southern Cambodia) likes to kill someone to take their lands, food, and others. Vietnamese dog eaters like Drgunzet are disgusted humans on earth.

  3. Anonymous4:54 AM

    FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) into Cambodia dropped by 1 billion USD last year, by 22% compared to the year before.


    FDI into Vietnam increased largely last year, but increased another 40.5% in the first quarter of this year!

    I think someone is trying to ruin Mr. Hun Sen's plan. He will lose the election in 2018 for sure. We need to continue to drive the investment away Cambodia to topple him.

  4. Anonymous1:50 PM

    Anonymous4:54 AM is a Vietnamese dog eater again called Drgunzet. Blah,blah,and blah.

  5. Anonymous9:39 AM

    Tep Vanny did not have money to pay Adhoc, hence she did not get any help. Kem Sokha does have a lot of money and oh well, why I am not surprised, he gets a lot of help.

    Mr. Hun Sen does have even a lot more money, many more times than Kem Sokha but Mr. Hun Sen does not need any help. He had records showing Kem Sokha in explicit sex with Mom Srey in Bangkok.

    In 2018, if Kem Sokha wins the election, Mr. Hun Sen will release the sex record then promptly arrest Kem Sokha. But that will look ugly, so Mr. Hun Sen will try to win the election fair and square. But he will resort to nasty tricks if he loses.