I recently had the privilege, along with some of my other colleagues, to pass an hour in the company of the Venerable Sovath, a Cambodian monk who is making himself heard by the authorities in his country. In fact, because he has dared to even ask the most simple of questions – Why can’t I be here? What laws have I broken? Or even just Why? - he has been banned from staying in the pagodas of Cambodia, which are places of worship. Furthermore, there are now concerns over his personal safety.
After giving us a portrait of the political situation in Cambodia, and providing us with some details of his own personal journey, the Venerable Sovath told us about land evictions that took place in his native village on March 22nd, 2009 He was called upon by his community to help, and it was from that point on that he began to publicly campaign in support of Cambodian communities threatened by expulsion. Venerable Sovath is one of the rare monks in Cambodia who has dared to speak out publicly in defense of human rights and social justice.
He works in collaboration with one of our Cambodian partners Licadho-Canada and in 2010, he received the Hellman-Hammet Prize from Human Rights Watch for his defense of human rights.
To learn more:
http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/video.php?perm=24 (video clip)