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HRP chief sees farmers jailed in border row

HRP chief sees farmers jailed in border row

HUMAN Rights Party President Kem Sokha travelled to Svay Rieng province on Thursday to visit two villagers jailed for participating in a protest with opposition leader Sam Rainsy along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border.

Kem Sokha said the pair – 39-year-old Meas Srey and Prom Chea, 41 – lacked access to proper food and medicine, and that their health had deteriorated since their arrest in December. During his visit, the HRP president presented the prisoners with mosquito nets, sacks of rice and medicine.

“I did not come to visit the victims for political reasons. My visit is for humanity and justice,” Kem Sokha said. “I came to encourage people who dare to protest for rights, freedom and territorial integrity.”

Meas Srey and Prom Chea were sentenced last month to one year in jail and ordered to pay 5 million riels (US$1,197) each in fines – in addition to the 55 million riels they must pay collectively with Sam Rainsy – after joining him in uprooting border markers along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng’s Chantrea district.

Sam Rainsy, who remains abroad in Europe, was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison and fined 8 million riels for the incident.

“The provincial court’s decision convicting the two Khmer farmers is very unjust and inhumane because they have no guilt – they were just protesting the loss of their farmland,” Kem Sokha said in a statement Thursday. The prisoners, Kem Sokha added, are considering whether to appeal their conviction.

Prom Chea’s wife, Chhoeung Sarin, said her husband had suffered severe pain in his leg since being imprisoned and was in great need of the medicine that Kem Sokha had provided.

Svay Rieng provincial prison chief Ken Savoeun said Thursday that although the prison attempts to take care of its charges, its resources are limited. Those who are seriously ill are taken to outside hospitals for treatment, he added.

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