Documentary film screening: Brother number one

New Zealander, Rob Hamill will be doing a film screening tour of his documentary, “Brother Number One” in Sydney and Canberra.


Sydney Event on 10 March 2015, 5.30 – 7pm at UNSW (Staff Common Room, Level 2, Law School). RSVP Essential

Canberra Event on 11 March 2015, 6 – 8.30pm at ANU (Lecture Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU). More details.






Download (PDF, 771KB)



“Many of My Family Have Changed Their Minds About Me Now” – Interview with SOU Sotheavy

Sou Sotheavy was recently awarded the David Kato Vision and Voice Award in Germany for her work in advocating LGBT rights. The 74-year-old tells us about surviving the Khmer Rouge, living with HIV and her dreams for equality in Cambodia

Interview by: Amanda Saxton   Photography by: Thomas Cristofoletti

Originally published: South East Asia Globe, 8 April 2014

How did you feel being awarded the David Kato prize? 

I have always worked from my heart without thinking to be paid or so publicly recognised. It was a big surprise. After I got the prize many people were trying to call me. They were so surprised to see me win. It was a shock to Cambodia that the rest of the world could accept me. So the prize really changed some people’s minds.


Hard life: transgender activist Sou Sotheavy grew up with 15 siblings and ran away from her family at age 14, becoming a prostitute soon after. Photo: Thomas Cristofoletti for SEA Globe

How will you spend your prize money? 

It will go towards changing the law and helping transgender people who are in trouble. But the publicity from the prize was more important than the money.

How was your time in Germany?

There wasn’t any culture shock – I’ve already been to 28 countries, from Switzerland to Mexico to Hong Kong. But I don’t like eating that heavy food. The hotel was wondering why I was always just drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

At the awards ceremony they normally only allow ten minutes for a speech, but they asked me to speak for one hour about my life and what I have done. Many were crying by the end, and I felt very moved by their compassion.

Tell us about your early life. 

I had a very hard time during the Pol Pot regime. They would punish me for being different, using rape and torture. This was very hurtful for my life and I will never forget it. Even though I have success now, I am still not 100% happy. My family life was very hard too, and I didn’t have a chance to go to school. Some of my relatives and other people didn’t think well of me because of my character. Many of my family have changed their minds about me now though – not 100%, but 50%.

What’s a typical day like for you now?

Twelve hours every day I’m doing social work. I’m always cycling around because I don’t have a big office. I actually prefer to serve the community in the community and to use money to directly help people instead of building offices. I also enjoy cycling along – I find it releases stress.

In each of eight provinces I have one director and one assistant. They are volunteers without a salary. Normally I hear about problems in bars or on the streets. Maybe a foreigner hit the girls in a bar, or something gets stolen on the street, or there’s fighting. As soon as I hear about this, no matter what time, I rush to help them. My latest mission is to focus on girls who are half boy [hermaphrodites]. Most of them are very discouraged and want to commit suicide. I’m working in Kratie with someone like this and am encouraging her to have an operation so she can have sex.

Who is Sou Sotheavy when she’s at home?

I have a secret boyfriend, who is only 24. I haven’t shown him to anyone. He’s divorced and has a little boy with him. I treat the boy like my son. If my boyfriend wants to leave me to get married and have a family with another woman, I’ll understand and support him. Our future is up to him.

I also have HIV but I don’t take any medicine. In Germany they tried to encourage me to take medicine but I don’t want to become dependent on it. India wanted to sponsor me with medication too, but I declined. I went to the hospital and the doctor said my health is strong enough for the time being. If I take the medicine I’m afraid I’ll get used to it and be unable to handle changes. I have heard some people have died from that.

What is your ultimate life goal?

I want the government to make a new law that allows LGBT people to marry and be accepted in the workplace. As long as I reach my goal of marriage and acceptance for LGBT people, I will die happy. This is my last goal. If I can reach it maybe all of the pain will go away. If not, I might die in pain.


Kaing Guek Eav Alias Duch Transferred To Kandal Prison

Press Statement by the Office of the Co-Prosecutors concerning
Kaing Guek Eav’s transfer from the ECCC detention unit to the national prison system

On 3 February 2012 Kaing Guek Eav was sentenced by the Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC to a term of life imprisonment.  On the same day the Co-Prosecutors filed a request to enforce sentence pursuant to Rule 113(1) of the Internal Rules.  The Co-Prosecutors requested that:

1.      Kaing Guek Eav remain at the ECCC Detention Unit until the conclusion of his scheduled testimony in Case 002; and
2.      Appropriate prison accommodation be identified for Kaing Guek Eav in the national prison system.

The ECCC is a national court within the domestic Cambodian legal system and the Cambodian authorities are ultimately responsible for the imprisonment of all those individuals convicted and sentenced at the ECCC to a term of imprisonment.

The Director General of Prisons of the Ministry of Interior of the Royal Cambodian Government has offered all assistance to the Co-Prosecutors.  Suitable accommodation has been adapted for Kaing Guek Eav at the Kandal Provincial Prison.  Staff members of the Office of the Co-Prosecutors visited Kandal Provincial Prison in June 2012 and May 2013 and inspected the accommodation proposed for Kaing Guek Eav. While recognising the practical constraints of local prison conditions the Co-Prosecutors have concluded, based on their inquiries that the prison accommodation on offer to Kaing Guek Eav is that which will best protect his interests.

On 21 May 2013, the Co-Prosecutors requested the General Department of Prisons of the Ministry of Interior to transfer Kaing Guek Eav to the Kandal Provincial Prison.  At the same time, the Co-Prosecutors have also sought an undertaking from the General Department of Prisons that the place and conditions of Kaing Guek Eav’s detention will not be varied to his detriment during his term of imprisonment.  The Co-Prosecutors are also mindful of the fact that the International Committee of the Red Cross conducts regular prison inspections of prisons throughout Cambodia including Kandal Provincial Prison.

On 28 May 2013 His Excellency Sar Kheng Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior agreed to facilitate the transfer of Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch to Kandal Provincial Prison from the ECCC Detention unit.

On 06 June 2013, Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch was transferred to the Kandal Provincial Prison to serve the remainder of his prison term.

Conflict’s Female Victims Far From Forgotten

By Rong Chhorng 6 June 2012

Dear Editor,

Neth Saroeun, 56, who was raped by a Khmer Rouge cadre in Pursat province in 1975, attends a hearing at the ECCC last year. Photograph: Mary Kozlovski/Phnom Penh Post

Neth Saroeun, 56, who was raped by a Khmer Rouge cadre in Pursat province in 1975, attends a hearing at the ECCC last year. Photograph: Mary Kozlovski/Phnom Penh Post

I write in response to the letter from Margot Wallström, a Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, published in The Phnom Penh Post on May 29 and headed “The forgotten Khmer Rouge victims”, and the reply to Wallstrom’s letter by Andrew Cayley, QC, the International Co-Prosecutor of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The Victims Support Section, in partnership with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation and the Cambodian Defenders Project, has already embarked on the implementation of the “Promoting Gender Equality and Access to Justice for Female Survivors and Victims of Gender-Based Violence under the Khmer Rouge Regime” project.

This project, funded by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, is designed to last from October, 2011 to late September of 2014.

Stories of victims of Khmer Rouge sexual violence do not remain hidden.

First, on May 31 this year, the Victims Support Section, the Cambodian Defenders Project and the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation began holding “launching of gender-responsive practice” thematic workshops.

These workshops are just a part of activities designed to redress the suffering of female and gender-based violence victims in order to enable them to access justice, mental support, documentation and dissemination of information about gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge, women’s rights and good practice of gender-sensitive transitional justice measures (such as Cambodian Women Hearing).

This activity is within the context and scope of non-judicial measures mandated in the role of the Victims Support Section in compliance with the ECCC’s Internal Rule 12, which states: “The Victims Support Section shall be entrusted with the development and implementation of non-judicial programs and measures addressing the broader interests of victims. . . developed and implemented in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organisations external to the ECCC.”

Second, in addition to the efforts to promote gender equality and access to justice for female survivors and victims of gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge regime, the core project of the Victims Support Section, meaningful victims’ participation in the proceedings of the ECCC, has been a backbone for the victims to exercise their rights through judicial proceedings and participate in the justice-seeking process as civil parties in the proceedings of the ECCC.

In fact, the majority of the 3,864 civil parties in Case 002 are females.

Third, female victims of the Khmer Rouge regime have been assisted in attending hearings and have been provided with legal representation through the victims’ support programs of non-governmental organisations, working in line with the ECCC’s public-affairs section and the Victims Support Section as partners.

They have received mental support, legal counselling and outreach advocacy for their rights and their access to justice in the due diligence process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The Khmer Rouge’s female victims have not been forgotten in the current work of the ECCC’s Victims Support Section.

Rong Chhorng
Chief of the Victims Support Section of the ECCC