Women's Rights

Husband Locks Anti-Eviction Activist Yorm Bopha in House

By Sek Odom + Matt Blomberg

Recently freed anti-eviction activist Yorm Bopha has become embroiled in a very public domestic dispute with her husband, with reporters Tuesday being called to their Boeng Kak area home by an NGO representative claiming that Ms. Bopha’s husband was trying to kill her.

Housing Rights Task Force director Sia Phearum said that he had alerted the media because he was afraid that Ms. Bopha—who was released from prison last year after serving one year on charges rights groups say were meant to silence her activism—would fall victim to local authorities’ dirty tactics.

“Yorm Bopha’s husband [Luos Sokhorn, 52] had locked her inside the house and none of the community, who could hear Ms. Bopha screaming, could get inside,” Mr. Phearum said.

“[Mr. Sokhorn] has become very close with local authorities and we were worried that this was a tactic of theirs to provoke violence in the community so that they could make arrests and suppress future protests,” he said.

Three government-aligned news outlets—Kampuchea Thmey, Koh Santepheap and Deum Ampil—Tuesday also published stories claiming that Ms. Bopha was having an affair with another Boeng Kak resident.

When reporters arrived at Ms. Bopha’s residence Tuesday after being alerted by Mr. Phearum, Ms. Bopha was being treated by a doctor for scratches on her forearms and hands.

Representatives of the Housing Rights Task Force would not allow reporters to interview Ms. Bopha in her home, but contacted later, she said that the physical dispute with her husband began after she complained that he had a gambling problem.

“He told me that he wants to sell the house and never have to live in Boeng Kak any more,” Ms. Bopha said.

Ms. Bopha denied the allegations in local publications that she was having an affair, claiming that a section of the media was “aiming to defame” her because they had a political agenda.

“Those aren’t journalists; they have no conscience,” she said. “They have published stories without any idea of the real story.”

Ms. Bopha claimed last night that she had divorced her husband on November 23, a day after she was released on bail from prison.

Mr. Sokhorn, however, denied that the pair were divorced, though he admitted he had been staying with a nephew for at least a month, and said that he wanted Ms. Bopha to retire from her activism.

“For three years they have been yelling at City Hall and they get nothing. It is enough,” he said.

“If she [fellow activist Tep Vanny] comes to try and take my wife to the protest again, I will hit her and lock her inside every time.”

Ms. Bopha said last night that she would not file a complaint with police over the physical altercation.

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