Hu Jintao had already left the day before, but five Boeung Kak villagers were undeterred yesterday as they attempted to leave a petition for China’s president, only to be turned back by police.
The quintet, whose petition requests that Hu intervene in their land dispute with the Cambodian government and local developer Skukaku, were greeted by some 50 police officers deployed around the Chinese Embassy.
Villager representative Tep Vanny said that the police, who worked as security guards for the embassy, refused to accept the petition, claiming the embassy was not open due to the ASEAN summit.
“We just wanted to ask the Chinese president to ask the government and the company to allow us to get an upgrade on the land size that the government had granted,” Tep Vanny said.
The Chinese Embassy could not be reached for comment, but a notice on the wall of the embassy noted that the consular department would be closed from March 28 to April 4.
The petition states that Boeung Kak villagers are suffering from fear and intimidation at the hands of government authorities, who are using the court system to pressure and violate their rights to freedom of expression.
The letter adds: “We strongly believe that you have the capacity to urge a fair resolution of our land problems.”
One Chamkar Morn district deputy who declined to provide his name attempted to negotiate with villagers and cited diplomatic immunity as a reason they cannot protest in front of embassies.
He added: “Villagers have the right to freedom of expression, but they cannot protest here. Our country is busy with the ASEAN meeting, and protesting here would affect the meeting’s proceedings.”
To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at firstname.lastname@example.org