Theary C. Seng is currently writing her second book, the founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice & Reconciliation, and the founding president of CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education, registered with the Ministry of Interior. After a 2-year stint as a commercial lawyer, Theary, in March 2006, joined the Center for Social Development, a local human rights organization based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as its executive director until her removal in July 2009 by a politically–motivated court injunctive order.
Theary was born in Phnom Penh, probably in January 1971. Under the Khmer Rouge, she lived in Svay Rieng province bordering Vietnam, where the killings were most intense and where she spent five months in Boeung Rei prison. The Khmer Rouge killed both her parents. She and her surviving family trekked across the border for Thailand in Nov. 1979 and emigrated to the U.S. one year later.
Since 1995, Theary has been in Cambodia volunteering with various labor and human rights groups. In January 2004, she moved permanently to live and work in her country of birth. Of choice, home is now again Cambodia.
Theary graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service (Washington, DC) with a Bachelor of Science in International Politics in 1995 and from the University of Michigan Law School with a Juris Doctor in 2000. Theary is a member of the New York Bar Association and American Bar Association.
Theary has written about her life in a book entitled Daughter of the Killing Fields (London, 2005). Theary made history when she testified as the first ECCC-recognized civil party against the pre-trial detention hearing of the most senior, surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Brother No. 2 Nuon Chea on 7 Feb. 2008, followed by other encounters in the courtroom with Khieu Samphan (whom she met for the first time in 2001 at his home in Palin), Ieng Sary and wife Ieng Thirith.
Theary is the chair of the Board of Directors of the World Bank-funded Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in the East Asia & Pacific (ANSA-EAP) located at (but independent from) the Ateneo School of Government, now an independent Foundation registered in the Philippines; a member of the Preparatory Committee and now the Governing Board of Directors for the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN (HRRCA)