Dr. Kek Pung
While Cambodia's civil war raged in the 1980s, Dr. Kek Pung, a Cambodian Buddhist living abroad, arranged negotiations between PM Hun Sen & King Norodom Sihanouk. The negotiations led to signing of the Paris Peace Accords 1991, which mandated a UN mission to Cambodia to supervise elections & resolve the long-standing conflict.
In the wake of the peace agreement, Dr. Pung, a medical doctor, returned toCambodia & contemplated how she could help alleviate the suffering Cambodians faced due to years of war & poverty. The result was the founding of the Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (known by its French acronym LICADHO) in 1992.
Dr. Kek Pung directs LICADHO & 1,000 volunteers throughout half of Cambodia’s provinces. She has pioneered: free elections, representation for victims of domestic or police violence (mainly women, children, opposition leaders, teachers, social workers & members of NGOs) in court where it has won about a third of its cases, offered medical assistance & social services, & conducted prison monitoring.
She teaches Cambodians about their rights through classes, comic books, TV and radio programs and theater productions. She notes that, “The mere fact of our presence makes a difference.” And she keeps fighting in spite of serious threats against her person.
Her definition of courage is, “To do something for the people in spite of the intimidation.” Everybody in Cambodia knows LICADHO, & Dr. Kek Pung’s work to protect the rights of the vulnerable.