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Authorities arrest two Svey Reing villagers

TWO villagers in Svey Rieng province who had filed complaints about losing their land were arrested on Wednesday after being questioned in connection with the uprooting of Cambodia-Vietnam border markers with opposition party leader Sam Rainsy on October 25, family members and rights groups said.

Meas Srey and Prom Chea were held by provincial court officials after questioning Wednesday. A third man, identified as Neang Phally who had yet to be questioned, fled the court, and his whereabouts remain unknown, officials said.

Two other villagers were due in court for questioning today, court officials added.

Prom Chea’s wife, Choeung Sarin, said her husband’s arrest was unjust. “He was detained in court until Meas Srey was questioned. Then, they were both taken into custody. I am afraid. I don’t know where they’ve taken my husband,” she said.

In a citation issued on December 16, Judge Long Kesphyrom said the accused had purposely destroyed border marker poles and warned that if they refused to appear in court they would be arrested.

“The citation summoned my sister to appear in court, so when she appeared, why did they arrest her?” said Meas Prel, brother of Meas Srey. “This is an abuse of human rights.”

Nget Nara, a coordinator with the human rights group Adhoc, called the arrests unjust. “This action makes other people who are victims never dare to complain again,” he said. “People rely on the court, but the court arrests them.”

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the court is adding to the injustices.

“They wanted the government to help, but they were arrested,” he said, adding that people complaining about losing land should be encouraged, not arrested.

Judge Long Kesyphyrom could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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