Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Safe return’ for villagers of Preah Vihear

‘Safe return’ for villagers of Preah Vihear

‘Safe return’ for villagers of Preah Vihear

Four village representatives who feared arrest over a land dispute with the Drug and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation have returned to their village in Preah Vihear province after protective assurances were granted by local authorities.

Four village representatives who feared arrest over a land dispute with the Drug and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation have returned to their village in Preah Vihear province after protective assurances were granted by local authorities.

Yi Sok San, deputy head of the rights group Adhoc, said the men fled on January 14 after receiving letters from local police requesting a meeting with deputy provincial governor Sar Thavy on January 27.

Yi Sok San, accompanied by officials from Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, negotiated with local authorities over the weekend to guarantee the villagers a safe return to their village in Choam Ksan district without arrest.

“We asked the authorities not to bring police forces to the village when addressing these issues and to include civil society NGOs at the next meeting. The authorities agreed [to do so],” Yi Sok San said.

Last September two village representatives from Choam Ksan were arrested and charged with incitement, disinformation and forgery after a complaint was filed against them by DARPO. They were released on bail in October 2010.

Choam Ksan district governor Sok Hay said that the letter was just an invitation for a meeting.

“The villagers made complaints against others, and when we called them for a meeting to show evidence, they became fearful. We are authorities waiting to help them. There is nothing to fear,” he said.

Representative Hun Dareth, 25, said that he returned to the village on Sunday feeling safe. “I am normal now and have no feeling that I’ll be arrested.”

In 2008, DARPO received 556 hectares of land granted via social concessions from the government. 319 families filed a complaint with Adhoc in May 2010 accusing DARPO of expanding beyond the given land, bulldozing, destroying, and burning houses as well as threatening villagers.

Deputy provincial governor Sar Thavy said he did not have time to comment on the case on Monday. DARPO director Pen Loem could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • PM's Bodyguard commander hits back at US

    The commander of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit (BGU) Hing Bun Heang on Sunday dismissed a short video clip that went viral on social media in which he says he is preparing for a war with the United States over its aggressiveness towards