Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers face incitement allegation

Villagers face incitement allegation

Villagers face incitement allegation

VILLAGE representatives speaking at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday said that three people accused of inciting protests against an NGO in Preah Vihear province’s Choam Khsan district had been summoned to appear for questioning at the provincial court this week.

Villagers said the legal action was part of a campaign of intimidation by the Drugs and AIDS Research and Prevention Organisation, an NGO that was granted a 556-hectare social land concession in 2007 and charged with aiding disadvantaged families in the area.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 21 NGOs, issued a statement yesterday urging the government to investigate DARPO, saying the organisation had forced families who had lived in Choam Ksan since 2002 to leave their homes under fear of “threats, rape and torture”.

Local rights group Adhoc, which has been investigating the NGO since July, filed a similar complaint to four government ministries on Friday.

Sath Savoeun, a village representative who attended the conference yesterday, said she was among three villagers summoned to appear at the court on Thursday. “I am afraid of being arrested,” she said.

DARPO director Pen Loem, a one-star general and adviser to Senate President Chea Sim, said yesterday that the villagers had been accused of inciting protests against him.

“Those small groups tried to incite my people to thumbprint documents to accuse me,” he said. He added, though, that the complaint against the three villagers had not been filed by him, but by Choam Ksan residents who had benefited from his organisation.

Village representative Kim Sophal said that the NGO charged villagers up to US$4,000 for plots of land, and then used the threat of legal action to prevent them from complaining.

“We are living in fear,” and villagers who had travelled to Phnom Penh to attend the press conference expected retribution, he said. “When we return back, they will threaten us by all means.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,