Omar Havana

A woman's Cry: The detention of Tep Vanny
Location: Paris, France
Nationality: Spanish
Biography: Omar Havana, 1975 Granada, Spain. Spanish Freelance Photojournalist. Based in Paris, France. Previously based in Asia. ( Nepal 2014-2015 and Cambodia 2008 - 2014 ; 2015-2017) Omar has worked as a professional photojournalist since 2005, and since... read on

Tep Vanny is Cambodia’s most famous activist and the leader of the women of Boeung Kak Lake, who stormed the country after their forced eviction from the lake. Since then, Tep Vanny has received several international awards for her activism and has been jailed several times, but has never given up her fight for justice. She has become a symbol of the human rights movement in Cambodia, a country where freedom of speech is constantly being curtailed by the ruling party. 

On 15 August 2016, she was arrested during a protest calling for the release of five fellow human rights defenders (known as the “Freethe5KH”). One week later, she was convicted on charges of “insult to a public official” and sentenced to six days in prison. However, instead of releasing her, authorities subsequently reactivated charges that had been brought against her in 2013 but never followed up on; in September 2016 she was sentenced to six months in prison, and in February 2017, to an additional 30 months in jail and fined USD3,500. Multiple appeals for her release have been denied.

"Tep Vanny’s only “crime” is defending human rights. Her detention is arbitrary and illegal and sadly shows how the Cambodian authorities have turned the courts into tools of repression. Her trial was deeply flawed as no credible evidence was presented against her... This is a clear attempt by the Cambodian authorities to silence one of the country’s most prominent activists – conveniently for the government, they have also assured that Tep Vanny will be kept in prison during next year’s general election".

Josef Roy Benedict. Former Deputy Director - Campaigns. Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office Amnesty International 

Vanny was finally released from prison in August 2018 after receiving a royal pardon from Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni on request of Prime Minister Hun Sen. 

Photography: © Omar Havana. All Rights Are Reserved


By Omar Havana —


Bonjour, Paris

By Omar Havana — "The meaning of the other and love have disappeared from this society. Without money, people do not exist."  - Jean, a 33-year-old..

Trapped: the Dark Side of Cambodia's Beer Gardens

By Omar Havana — Throughout Cambodia, thousands of women, most of them under the age of 25, work in beer gardens, karaoke bars and private parties promoting beer..

When the Earth Shook Nepal

By Omar Havana — A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25th, 2015, shaking the already-impoverished nation to its core, killing over 8,000 people,..

Devotees of the Ink

By Omar Havana — Once a year, thousands of people from all over Thailand travel to the Wat Bang Phra temple, located about 70 kilometers outside of Bangkok in..

Inside a Cambodian Slaughterhouse

By Omar Havana — In a country where the demand for meat is ever-increasing and where pork is generally favored, Cambodia’s swine slaughterhouses are an..

The Way

By Omar Havana — More than 100,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Greece since the beginning of 2016. They cross the Mediterranean, risking their lives to..

The Khmer Fighters

By Omar Havana — Pradal Serey or Kun Khmer -free fighting- is an unarmed martial art from Cambodia. Compared to other forms of Southeast Asian kickboxing, Kun Khmer..

My Country Is My Family

By Omar Havana — Surrounded by stunning forest, Beldangi is an example of how a refugee camp should be. Only one banner and a barrier at the main entrance indicate..

Evicting Dreams: The Last Days of the White Building

By Omar Havana — On June 6th, the faces of the residents of the White Building showed the sadness of what were their last days home. During those days, people..

The Bucolic Life of a Cambodian Grandmother Accused of Mass Killings

By Omar Havana — In this dusty mountain hamlet on the Thai border, she is known as Grandma Chaem. The tiny 74-year-old lives peacefully in a snug, stilted house..

The Angkor Hell

By Omar Havana — Just a few dozen kilometers away from the world-famous Angkor temples, about 300 people have lived for the last three years in a rapidly expanding..

La Vie En Jaune

By Omar Havana — Hundreds of thousands of “Gilet Jaunes” (meaning “Yellow Vest” in French) have taken to the streets of France every weekend..
Join us
for more access