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Villagers fear watchful eye

Villagers fear watchful eye

Residents of two Ratanakkiri villages have accused local authorities of monitoring their movements out of fear that they would travel to Phnom Penh to participate in pro-opposition demonstrations, rights group Adhoc said.

According to Adhoc provincial coordinator Chhay Thy, ethnic Jarai villagers in Andong Meas district’s Dal village and in O’Yadav district’s Lom village had reported that authorities in their areas were observing their activities, and had asked to inform them before leaving.

“The authorities are worried that the villagers, especially CNRP members and Christians, will go to Phnom Penh to protest,” he said.

A Dal village security guard had also threatened to shoot villagers over perceived ties to the opposition, Thy alleged.

Lom villager Romas Svat said five Christian youths had left the village for a camping trip in Preah Sihanouk province last week, prompting questions from authorities.

“Our authorities thought that the five youths went to Phnom Penh to protest, but … they went to go camping,” Svat said.

Lom village chief Sev Fin, however, rejected the allegations.

“Although the villagers want to attend the demonstrations, they do not have money to travel,” he said.

A group of 15 Christian teens who had asked him to sign a permission letter before they left for a meeting in Battambang did so on their own, he added.

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