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Ratanakkiri residents to rally for their rights

Ratanakkiri residents to rally for their rights

VILLAGERS in Ratanakkiri's provincial capital Banlung will rally Monday to protest the destruction of the environment after receiving permission from Interior Minister Sar Kheng to demonstrate, after two previous attempts were stopped by authorities.

"I have requested all authorities to cooperate and to let the people rally peacefully in a safe environment," said Sar Kheng, who also serves as deputy prime minister, in a letter issued Tuesday.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said that Ratanakkiri's residents are happy to have received permission to rally from a top government official.

"The main aim of the rally is to encourage all people to participate in preventing the destruction of the natural environment and resources," he said.

"Many people, and in particular ethnic minorities, face losing their natural environment and resources," he added.

Pen Bonnar said he is hoping that about 1,000 people will join in the rally.

"We tried to rally three times. The first rally was unsuccessful because the provincial authorities cracked down on the rally violently," he said. "While the authorities allowed us to hold the second rally, we had to stay in one place only."

"This year's rally will start from Adhoc's Ratanakkiri branch office, continue towards the provincial hall and pass the forestry administration district office before returning to the branch office," he said.

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