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Lake activists sentenced, monk detained after taking part in protest

UPDATE: Joint letter regarding Boeung Kak Lake activists (HRW, SEAPA, Freedom House, 29 May 2012)

(CCHR/IFEX) - Phnom Penh, 24 May 2012 - Thirteen women affected by the land conflict at Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak Lake who have led protests against the eviction were today convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of inciting others to take land illegally under Article 504 of the Penal Code and obtaining land illegally under Articles 34, 259 of the Land Law Act after being detained without charge for a period of 48 hours. The 13 women are Kong Chantha, Tol Sreypov, Tep Vanny, Pov Sophea, Suong Samai, Pan Chhunret, Heng Nom, Chan Navy, Po Davy, Nguon Kimleang, Song Sreyleap, Chheng Leap and Nget Kun. Seven of the women have been sentenced to two years and six months in prison, five have been sentenced to two years and one has been sentenced to a term of one year.

The Venerable Loun Savath, a prominent human-rights activist and monk, joined some one hundred protestors outside the court today. As shown in this video clip, at around 10am, Loun Savath was manhandled and forced into an unmarked Land Cruiser by policemen, army officers and unidentified men before being driven to Wat Botum Pagoda, where police and officials from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Cults and Religion barricaded him inside. As of 4pm, Wat Botum remained completely sealed off, with even fellow monks unable to gain access to the site. It was widely rumoured that Loun Savath had been defrocked although a Ministry of Cults and Religion official has stated that this remains unclear. Last year, Loun Savath was banned from entering all pagodas in Phnom Penh as a result of his human rights and community activism.

In another development, a further two Boeung Kak representatives - Ly Channary (female) and Say Sareoun (male) - were arrested outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court at 2pm and taken to Phnom Penh Police Station where they are being held without charge.

Read CCHR's legal analysis of the charging and sentencing of the 13 community representatives:
Cambodia_CCHR_Legal_Analysis.pdf (516 KB)

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