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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Filmmaker takes land dispute to big apple

Filmmaker takes land dispute to big apple

Filmmaker takes land dispute to big apple

A representative from the Chi Kraeng community and a LICADHO official will be honoured in early December at a high-profile gala and concert in New York City for their work in using video to document land disputes.

Loun Sovath, a representative for the community, has produced several films about disputes between Chi Kraeng villagers and authorities. He will be honoured on December 2 by WITNESS, a United States-based NGO that trains and encourages video work to document human rights violations.

Dr Pung Chhiv Kek, president of Licadho, will also be attending the event.

“We are confident that the world is focusing on us and we have done a very risky job,” said Loun Sovath, who has been referred to as the “multimedia monk”.

He said he will be presenting his documentary work to about 600 people during his stay and has created 30 VCDs for distribution.

WITNESS was co-founded by pop star Peter Gabriel in 1992 and the gala event honouring Loun Sovath and LICADHO will feature performances from famed musicians, such as reggae artist Jimmy Cliff.

According to a press release from the organisation, it “trained LICADHO staff how to use video in their online and on-the-ground campaigns to document forced evictions of citizens whose land has been seized for so-called ‘development projects’”.

Since 1986, Chi Kraeng commune and nearby Anlong Samnor commune in Siem Reap province have been embroiled in land disputes. Altercations picked up last year when a judge said that the disputed land in question belonged to Anlong Samnor.

After a March 2009 altercation between military police and residents from Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor, criminal charges and legal action have been brought against some Chi Kraeng villagers, many of whom have received suspended sentences.

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