Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Monk, NGO staff detained

Monk, NGO staff detained

Ethnic Kuoy villagers protest where resin trees were allegedly cleared in Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanchey district
Ethnic Kuoy villagers protest where resin trees were allegedly cleared in Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanchey district last year. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Monk, NGO staff detained

Dissident monk But Buntenh was arrested along with a fellow monk and three NGO workers who had attended a protest by ethnic Kouy villagers held yesterday against an alleged land grab by three plantation companies in Preah Vihear’s Tbeng Meanchey district.

Buntenh, president of the Independent Monks Network (IMN), was detained along with monk Nam Chanthen and Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) members Bo Pao, Em Sarom and Chhen Sambo, Sambo said yesterday.

Sambo said about 40 armed police and military officers detained them as they left the protest site, alleging they had trespassed on private property without permission.

“I do not know whether we will be released or not,” he said as police drove the group to the provincial police station yesterday evening.

Lor Chan, a coordinator of Adhoc in Preah Vihear, said that a crowd had gathered outside the district police station while the group was being questioned.

“Hundreds of people are protesting there to demand their release,” he said, adding that if the case was taken to court Adhoc would offer legal aid.

The Kouy protesters, representing 528 families in the district, say Chinese firms Lan Feng and Roy Feng and a local company, Ly Heng, began clearing their land of resin trees in 2012 and the dispute remains unresolved.

In 2011, Lan Feng was granted 9,015 hectares in the area for an economic land concession, and Roy Feng has the rights to 8,841 hectares, government records show.

Chann said that the companies had been clearing the land without measuring the boundaries of their concessions and studying the possible effects on local communities.

“Though the villagers have launched many protests and for many years already, there is no resolution and it has become a chronic land dispute,” he said.

However Pang Yiek, Treng Meanchey district governor, said the companies were operating within the law.

“The companies do not work on the villagers’ land, but on legal land granted from the government,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio