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Four activists arrested during demonstration

Police force protesters off the road
Police force protesters off the road

Cambodian Center for Human Rights

(CCHR/IFEX) - 28 November 2011 - Four female community members from Boeng Kak Lake were arrested today after community members, mostly women, attempted to block Preah Monivong Boulevard, a bustling main road located in the heart of Phnom Penh. At least another five women are rumoured to have been injured during violent exchanges between community members and police. In a sign of the escalating tactics being employed by the lake community members, some of the demonstrators removed their clothes in a form of protest, which is likely to raise highbrows in a country with conservative views towards exposure of the human body. At the time of writing, it is understood that the four arrested community members remain in detention, although no reports of specific charges have been made.

According to the "Cambodian Express News", the demonstration started on the morning of 28 November when a number of lake residents - many of whom are facing eviction as a result of a land conflict with a private company, Shukaku Inc., which is owned by a senator in the ruling Cambodian People's Party - marched to Phnom Penh Municipality Hall to submit a letter. The letter requested that the authorities form a committee to mark the boundary of the 12.4-hectare onsite relocation zone announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in August 2011. While the community members are reported to have peacefully delivered the letter to city hall, authorities arrested two prominent community representatives: Bau Chhorvy and Tep Vanny. More community members are said to have joined the protest upon hearing of the arrests of the two women and blocked Preah Monivong Boulevard. Over the course of the protest two more community members - Heng Mom and Kong Chantha - were arrested.

This latest development at Boeng Kak Lake follows the death last week of another lake resident. On the evening of 22 November, Chea Dara, a mother of two young children whose family has reportedly been excluded from the relocation scheme, committed suicide. The land conflict at the lake, one of the most prominent in recent years, has affected or will affect around about 4,000 families in total. The relocation scheme announced by the Prime Minister in August, it is reported, will only include 750 of those families.
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