Boeung Kak 13 Held Without Charge

A bad day for land rights and human rights in Cambodia:


Thursday, 24 May 2012 Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Military police officers watch a group of Boeung Kak lake residents, who gathered outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to wait for information about 13 villagers who were arrested on Tuesday. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Thirteen women hauled into police vehicles during a demonstration at Boeung Kak lake on Tuesday were being held without charge at Phnom Penh police headquarters last night.

About 70 Boeung Kak villagers rallied outside Phnom Penh municipal court yesterday in support of the arrested women, who they thought were being held inside.

“I received information that the court has charged them with inciting our 18 families to take the land [at Boeung Kak] illegally,” said Ly Chanary, 39, who was evicted from her house at Boeung Kak in 2010.

“I think it is a very unjust accusation [because] we have not [received] any compensation or a solution.”

Police arrested the group, which included a 67-year-old, on Tuesday after officers tore down a wooden frame the villagers had erected where their houses once stood.

Eighteen families evicted from Boeung Kak in 2010 to make way for a $72 million development by Shukaku, a company owned by CPP senator Meng Khin, had vowed to rebuild on Tuesday, resulting in about 200 police being deployed.

Heng Mom, one of the 13 women who remained in custody last night, told the Post by telephone that she did not know how long she would be behind bars.

“Daun Penh governor Sok Sambath had accused us of encouraging the 18 families to build houses on their land illegally,” she said. “We have already denied this to police.”

Sok Sambath could not be reached for comment.

Phnom Penh Police commissioner Touch Naroth defended the arrests, saying the women shouted obscenities at his officers.

Touch Naroth said, however, that it was not up to police to charge the women – that role lay with the court prosecutor, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Am Sam Ath, senior technical officer at human rights group Licadho, said that suggestions the detainees were guilty of incitement was distorting what they had really been doing: looking for a solution to their housing problems.

“I appeal to the authority to release these 13 women,” he said.

In a similar incident, Phnom Penh municipal police detained more than 30 women and children during an eviction protest in January.

The detainees, from Borei Keila, were held without charge for a week at a social affairs centre before they climbed the walls and fled.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya


2 thoughts on “Boeung Kak 13 Held Without Charge

  1. Shelby Doyle says:

    Snap Court Verdict Sentences 13 Lake Protesters to Prison
    Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh

    A Cambodian protester, right, from Boueng Kak lake clashes with police officers in Phnom Penh, Tuesday, May 22, 2012.

    Thirteen land protesters who were seized during a demonstration earlier this week were handed heavy prison sentences after a quick court hearing on Thursday, even as two more people were arrested and a monk was facing the threat of defrocking for participating in similar land demonstrations.

    The 13 women were found guilty of illegally taking land and resisting public officers. Each received a jail term of between one year and two-and-a-half years. They were arrested this week when they tried to rebuild a home at the Boeung Kak lake development in protest of a
    forced eviction there earlier this year.

    “They have been doubly victimized,” said Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. “Victimized by the court and victimized by the land concession to the private company.”

    About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the court on Thursday, as the women were remanded to Prey Sar prison. Two of those demonstrators were arrested Tuesday afternoon and were held without charge, the center said in a statement.
    Those imprisoned were Kong Chantha, Tol Sreypov, Tep Vanny, Pov Sophea, Suong Samai, Pan Chhunret, Heng Nom, Chan Navy, Po Davy, Nguon Kimleang, Song Sreyleap, Chheng Leap and Nget Kun. Seven of the women received sentences of two years and six months; five were given two years; and one was sentenced to one year in prison.
    “Even though they are condemned, the Boeung Kak lake [conflict] will not end,” said Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho. The women were convicted on thin evidence, he said, including a video clip that did not include any of the seven defendants on trial, he said.

    Meanwhile, Loun Savath, a monk who is also a prominent human rights activist, was forced into a vehicle at Wat Botum in Phnom Penh and is reportedly defrocked, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights said Thursday. He was driven away by unidentified men after being surrounded by police and officials from the ministries of Interior and Religion.

  2. […] as a solid reminder of how creepy this government is… or the murder of Chut Wutty, or the arrest of the BK 13 or the subsequent protest or the efforts to defrock Loun Savath… If that isn’t […]

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