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Borei Keila and Boeung Kak women freed

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Authorities yesterday released the six Borei Keila and Boeung Kak women who were arrested in a violent protest outside Phnom Penh city hall on Wednesday.

Khouth Sophak Chakrya/Phnom Penh Post
Evicted Borei Keila women, including Ngin Sarith, were given roses and showered with water yesterday after being released from police custody.

The women’s freedom was secured in an agreement signed by eight of their supporters and authorities after about 30 women gathered to protest outside the municipal court yesterday morning.

Touch Vanna, 50, a representative of the women, said Kiet Chhe, deputy chief of city administration, had agreed to release the women if they stopped their “illegal” protesting, which “spoiled public order, tradition and the dignity of women”.

Two women tore off their clothes and bared their breasts during Wednesday’s protest as more than 50 others blocked traffic outside city hall on Preah Monivong Boulevard.

Violent scenes followed as police dragged women into a nearby van.

“We came to an agreement about this problem and we will face the full force of the law if we do not respect it,” Touch Vanna said yesterday.

However, they would continue to demand development firm Phan Imex construct two more  buildings – as promised in 2003 – and push authorities to release seven evictees detained in Prey Sar prison since violent clashes at Borei Keila on January 3.

“We told Kiet Chhe and some officials in the meeting that we will continue to protest if the Phnom Penh authority and the company don’t provide us houses,” she said.

Five of the arrested women are Borei Keila evictees who were detained on January 11 and held without charge at the Prey Speu socials affairs centre, while the sixth woman is a former Boeung Kak resident.

One of the women released yesterday said the six had been ordered not to phone their relatives or journalists while in custody.

“I told those police officers that we were just protesting because Phan Imex and 7 Makara district officials destroyed our houses,” she said.

Kiet Chhe, deputy chief of administration at Phnom Penh municipality, was not available for comment yesterday.

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