Source: Khmer Times
Communities affected by land disputes have used the occasion of International Women’s Day today to urge the government to free activist Tep Vanny.
They also called for the release of civil society organization officials and an NEC official who are being held in prison.
More than 100 people gathered yesterday from unions and civil society organizations, affected land communities in Boeung Kak and Thmor Kol, and people linked to Borei Keila.
The appeal was made under the theme “My mother is a land dispute prisoner” at an event in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district.
Boeung Kak community representative Bo Chhorvy said their land dispute had caused women great suffering from violence, arrest and other violations by authorities.
Their representative Ms. Vanny has been jailed several times. Ms. Chhorvy called on the government to intervene for the release of Ms. Vanny and civil society and NEC officials.
She said: “On Women’s Day, I do hope that the government and the leaders would give a gift to the Boeung Kak community and release Ms. Vanny.
“Ms. Vanny is a weak woman who is brave to protect the land, homes and justice for all communities.”
Another land community representative in Phnom Penh, Sin Sinoun, said women played an important role in families, society and in advocating actively in defense of their land and homes.
“Please respect human rights and human rights officials both male and female who are imprisoned,” she urged the government.
“Please release them as they have worked for society and all citizens.”
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the community pleas violated court procedures while the court had not yet decided who should be detained.
He said: “Once the detainee recognizes their guilt and won’t continue to protest, the prime minister can check to ask the king for a royal pardon.”
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Khuong Sreng said on Monday he had refused to allow International Women’s Day to be celebrated in the Boeung Kak area and asked that it be marked privately.
He had sent a letter saying organizers would be fully responsible if any gathering or march on the streets affected security or public order.
Events held yesterday went smoothly without obstruction from the authorities.