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Banteay Meanchey protesters seek organiser’s release

Activist Chheng Bun Hak participates in a protest in Banteay Meanchey's Poipet town in October. Bun Hak was arrested Monday for his role in organising another demonstration.
Activist Chheng Bun Hak participates in a protest in Banteay Meanchey's Poipet town in October. Bun Hak was arrested Monday for his role in organising another demonstration. ADHOC

Banteay Meanchey protesters seek organiser’s release

About 100 people yesterday gathered outside the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court to demand authorities release from custody the organiser of a protest on Monday.

Authorities claim Chheng Bun Hak failed to get permission for Monday’s rally, staged by residents who face eviction to make way for a planned railway project in the province.

Though not charged with an offence yet, Bun Hak has also been accused of disrupting public order after the group of about 50 protesters burned and decapitated an effigy, then dragged it through the streets.

Yesterday, Vorn Vann, 36, was among scores of supporters outside the courthouse.

“We went to the court in order to release Mr Hak,” he said.

Vann said authorities asked protesters to hand over any documents related to their rally.

Five protesters were allowed inside the building to discuss the case with officials, said the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, Soum Chankea.

Provincial police chief Ath Khem declined to comment.

Families living along the railway lines in Banteay Meanchey have been told they must make way for road construction in preparation for tracks to be laid for a line connecting neighbouring Thailand to Phnom Penh.

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