Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGO event interrupted yet again, this time in Tbong Khmum



NGO event interrupted yet again, this time in Tbong Khmum

Tbong Khmum authorities break up a Women’s Day event organised by the NGO CCFC yesterday, despite the group saying it had received permission for the gathering. Photo supplied
Tbong Khmum authorities break up a Women’s Day event organised by the NGO CCFC yesterday, despite the group saying it had received permission for the gathering. Photo supplied

NGO event interrupted yet again, this time in Tbong Khmum

Provincial police broke up a gender equality event in Tbong Khmum yesterday despite the fact that the NGO hosting the event had received permission for the celebration, members of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC) said.

It was the second event held by the organisation to be disrupted by authorities in as many days. Phun Sophal, chief of CCFC in the province, said roughly 300 villagers had gathered at the event, held in honour of International Women’s Day, when provincial authorities came to break it up.

Sophal claimed that police had given the NGO written permission to hold the event but were upset when nobody attended a similar government-sponsored event at the commune hall. “The villagers gathered somewhere else, and they caused trouble for us in return,” Sophal said.

CCFC has had at least two events shuttered by police over the past two years – including one in Takeo on Wednesday – and was singled out as the only local NGO in a government-made video about “colour revolution” last year. In the video, the NGO was accused of attempting to recruit 70,000 people for a so-called “green revolution” ahead of the 2017 commune elections.

On Wednesday, four representatives of CCFC were stopped from hosting an event with local farmers and interrogated by Takeo police about their supposed connection to the Cambodia National Rescue Movement, a group formed by ex-opposition members overseas that the government has labelled a terrorist organisation.

Officials at the local, district and provincial level yesterday all denied issuing the order to break up the event.

Choam Kravien Commune Chief Beng Rithy maintained he was following orders from district authorities. “Regarding the issues of the CNRM, we did not accuse them,” Rithy said. “We just closed their forum, which did not follow the suggestions from the authorities, who did not want to have many places doing the same event.”

Memot District Police Chief Hong Kim Hoeun, however, said that he acted on orders from provincial authorities and did not know why the event was shuttered.

Tbong Khmum Deputy Police Chief and security head Huot Sothy also denied that he ordered the closure of the forum and said the decision rested with local authorities. “For me, I just sent my forces to investigate and take videos to send to provincial authorities,” he said.

CCFC Secretary Theng Savoeun defended the organisation’s right to hold the event separately from the similar one hosted by local officials, noting that the officials had rejected the NGO’s proposed programming.

“Once they get power, those authorities do not complete their duties properly and do not serve the public’s interest, but instead discriminate and restrict our freedom of speech and gathering, which is protected by national and international laws,” Savoeun said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting