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Duo at maligned NGO face court summons

Two workers at an NGO that has been embroiled in controversy for alleged human rights abuses were summoned for questioning by the Preah Vihear provincial court earlier this week in relation to an assault on villagers in the province’s Choam Ksan district.

Kong Tola and Chon Phearom, workers for controversial NGO Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation, were ordered to appear in court for questioning in connection to accusations that they beat villagers during a land dispute in 2010.

According to the summons, issued by Judge Nov Mony Choat on Wednesday and received by the Post yesterday, “If they do not come to the court on time, the court will issue a warrant for their arrest”.

Keo Oun, a villager who says she was one of those beaten by Kong Tola, reported that she had also been called in for questioning.

“He beat me until I fainted, and then he hit me more. Even though two years have passed, I still want justice,” she said, adding that “he must be sentenced according to the law”.

Lor Chann, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that the government had granted a 556-hectare land concession to DARPO in 2007 with instructions to distribute the land to families in need. Instead, however, DARPO used the land for its personal gain, charging villagers for plots.

Since DARPO was granted that concession, tempers have flared between the organisation and local families. Prior complaints against DARPO have accused the organisation of seizing land in excess of the concession amount, as well as subjecting villagers to “threats, rape and torture”.

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