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One-year jail terms for B Kak protesters

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District security guards arrest a Boeung Kak land rights activist in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday as she protests the previous day's arrest of seven fellow activists. Those seven were sentenced to one-year jail sentences in little more than 24 hours after their arrests. AFP

One-year jail terms for B Kak protesters

SEVEN Boeung Kak lake activists, all of them women, have been convicted and sentenced to one year in jail – just a day after being arrested during a protest.

Five of the group were members of the so-called “Boeung Kak 13” imprisoned in similar circumstances in 2012.

“I sentence them each to one year in prison and fine them 2 million riel (about $500),” the presiding Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge told the courtroom.

The seven women stood trial this afternoon after being charged under Article 78 of the traffic law just hours earlier for allegedly blocking Monivong Boulevard outside City Hall in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The seven are Tep Vanny, Nget Khun, Kong Chantha, Bo Chhorvy, Phan Chhunreth, Norng Sreng and Song Srey Leap.

Of those, Vanny, Khun, Chantha, Chhunreth and Srey Leap were among 13 imprisoned for more than a month for protesting in 2012.

Four other people – three activists and Suen Hai, a monk from Stung Meanchey pagoda – were arrested this morning outside the municipal court during a protest calling for the group’s release.

Protesters also made their presence known outside the US Embassy.

During Monday’s protest at City Hall, protesters blocked the road, demanding authorities fix the sewage system in their villages to prevent flooding.
“Our houses get flooded every time it rains and . . . we worry about electric shock,” Vanny said before her arrest.

The community has battled authorities for years over the eviction of thousands of families from Boeung Kak to make way for a government-linked development that has yet to materialise.

Several dozen families are still waiting for land titles owed to them after Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2011 reclaimed part of the concession awarded to ruling party Senator Lao Meng Khin’s Shukaku company in 2007.

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