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Banned workshop carries on

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A policeman scribes notes in Preah Vihear province yesterday morning after shutting down a community forum on land rights. Supplied

Banned workshop carries on

Adhoc officials in Preah Vihear province yesterday went ahead with a civil and human rights training program, despite being told by local authorities to halt the two-day workshop.

Sok Sophal, police chief of Tbeng I commune in Sangkum Thmei district, said he received an order from the district governor to stop the training because organisers didn’t have proper documentation indicating provincial approval, the date of the event and names of speakers.

“I just did as I was commanded to do,” he said, adding that police didn’t force the organisers to stop the event after informing them it was forbidden. “When we got there, we just told them they needed to stop . . . I did not use any violence.”

Ros Heng, Sangkum Thmei district governor, said officials didn’t want to ban Adhoc from hosting the event, but the organisation lacked the necessary paperwork. This is the second time this year that Adhoc was hosting such training in the same commune, he added.

“They need to have proper documents with them,” he said. “I don’t know whether Adhoc is helping our government and the people, or [whether] it’s trying to cause trouble with authorities.”

Authorities have long been accused of breaking up similar gatherings for political reasons, and Lor Chan, provincial coordinator for Adhoc, said he had submitted a request to provincial authorities in February to be allowed to conduct various trainings over the course of the year.

His request was approved in March. Two commune police officers sat through the training in the morning, and one in the afternoon, Chan said.

“I think the district governor is . . . intimidating the communities and violating their rights, because they have the right to attend any training,” he said.

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