Legal Support Fund for Theary Seng

On Thanksgiving Day, Theary Seng will not be spending time with family and friends like so many of us will be.  She will not be giving thanks for surviving the many challenges 2020 has presented.  Instead, Theary, who is a citizen of both Cambodia and the United States, will be at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court standing trial for politically-motivated and fictitious charges of conspiracy to commit treason and incitement to commit a felony.   If convicted, she could face up to 12 years in prison.  She needs your support.

For those who do not know Theary, she is a terribly brave civic leader and human rights advocate in the country of her birth, Cambodia.  By the age of seven, Theary had lost both of her parents and many relatives to the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime.  Her story is documented in her memoir, Daughter of the Killing Fields.  She moved in 1979 to the United States, where she worked hard, obtained a Bachelor of Science in International Politics from Georgetown University, and ultimately a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, where I had the fortune to meet and study with her.  

Despite the risks she faced, Theary was determined to take her education from the United States and bring her legal training back home to help victims of the Khmer Rouge and to help restore democracy and human rights to her country.  During her time living and working in Cambodia, Theary has been a relentless, outspoken, fearless, and non-violent critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen.  

The charges Theary is facing are politically-motivated and not supported in fact or in law.  Though the world is now watching , Theary knows she is unlikely to receive a fair trial.  But Theary has never backed down from intimidation, threats, and harassment by the Cambodian regime and she intends to appear for her trial on November 26th, Thanksgiving Day, to defend herself in court.

It is unlikely that the matter will end there, however, and it is for that reason that I have created this campaign.  While she has been very successful in her efforts to protect human rights and promote civic education in Cambodia, her personal resources to defend herself against these baseless charges are limited.  Theary is being represented pro bono by Jared Genser, a leading Washington DC-based international human rights attorney who has worked on political prisoner cases in more than 25 countries in the world and who was a classmate of ours at Michigan Law.  

However, her legal defense will require additional financial support for actual out of pocket expenses to ensure that she and her legal team can adequately defend her against these unfounded charges.  Such expenses may include travel (when possible), translation services, and other yet to be foreseen challenges.  

While we do not presently know the precise scope of her needs, I ask for your support now to help Theary prepare as best possible to defend herself against these bogus allegations.  Any donation will be helpful.  When expenses are incurred and paid for out of this fund, I’ll post updates to this campaign.  And when the danger has passed, any excess funds will be transferred to her non-profit organization, the Center for Cambodian for Civic Education.

Maybe we will all have something to be thankful for, once these absurd charges against Theary are dropped or overcome.
  • Quentin Baird 
    • $500 
    • 1 mo
  • Phannara Each 
    • $220 
    • 1 mo
  • Sem Tiep 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • CEROC 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Julie A Chea 
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
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Glenn Kaminsky 
Bethesda, MD