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Protest calls for villagers’ release

Protest calls for villagers’ release

Dozens of residents of Kampong Chhnang province’s Lor-peang village descended on the provincial court yesterday to demand the release of two people jailed over their role in a long-running land dispute with the politically connected KDC Company.

About 70 villagers, along with members of the Independent Monks Network and the Boeung Kak community, marched some 30 kilometres towing large carts containing food and loudspeakers to Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court to demand the release of Seang Heng and Mang Yav.

“We came to demand [their] release . . . We demand the court re-examine who is right and who is wrong,” community representative Om Sophy said. “If we went by car, we would go quietly and no one would know our problems.”

The group camped out on the street last night and plans to return to the court today.

In a joint statement this week, NGOs, including the Community Peace-Building Network, of which Heng and Yav are members, condemned the arrests, which were made following claims that they caused “intentional damage” to property and injuries to KDC staff during clashes last month.

“These arrests are yet another example of an alarming pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions of rights defenders,” it says.

A further eight villagers refused to show up for questioning yesterday.

Nhong Chanthy, Kampong Chhnang provincial investigating judge, could not be reached for comment.

Thai Hy, a KDC representative, said he was “too busy” to answer a Phnom Penh Post reporter’s questions.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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