Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Boeung Kak activists’ release sought

Boeung Kak activists’ release sought

Boeung Kak lake activist Nget Khun
Boeung Kak lake activist Nget Khun, calls to community members from a window at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month after she was detained by authorities. Vireak Mai

Boeung Kak activists’ release sought

As 10 land-rights activists and a monk prepare to take their appeal against one-year prison terms to the Appeal Court today, rights groups yesterday called for an end to government influence over the judiciary.

“It’s time for Cambodia’s courts to act professionally and independently from the executive and stop the judicial harassment of land rights defenders and peaceful protesters,” said Karim Lahidji, president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in a joint statement with the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

Criticism of the charges against the 11 – arrested over two days in November and all convicted and imprisoned about 24 hours later – also came from rights group Amnesty International.

“These activists are victims of the Cambodian authorities’ relentless crackdown on peaceful protests – they should never have been prosecuted in the first place, let alone jailed,” said Janice Beanland, the organisation’s campaigner on Cambodia.

Amnesty also called on the Kingdom’s development partners to speak out against the convictions.

“Cambodia’s development partners must demand the release of the 11 activists and remind the government of its binding international legal obligation to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” she said.

For the second consecutive day, a throng of security forces confronted land activists trying to stage a monthlong protest in the capital’s public gathering space, Freedom Park, yesterday. Riot police and Daun Penh district security guards blocked the protesters and, for a short while, cornered them near the US Embassy.

“In the morning [today], we will keep protesting … in the afternoon, we will go to the Appeal Court to support the activists and the monk,” Bopha said.

They will be joined by some 500 other human rights defenders and monks who plan to gather outside court, said Bov Sophea, who represents another Boeung Kak group.

“It won’t be a demonstration or an act of putting pressure on the court,” Sophea said. “We just want to strongly support our members and representatives who have been unfairly imprisoned by a municipal court that lacks independence.”

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said authorities would take “administrative” measures if gatherings outside the court affected safety or public order.

Seven of those appealing were convicted under the Traffic Law for blocking a road on November 10 in protest against flooding at Boeung Kak, while the other four were arrested outside the seven’s trial the next day for allegedly inciting violence against a public official.

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol