Angry protesters gathered before Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday to demand the release of two jailed housing rights activists.
PHNOM PENH - Angry protesters gathered before Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday to demand the release of two jailed housing rights activists, performing spiritual rituals to curse court officials in a sign of their growing desperation.
Some protesters threw salt and chilies at the court building, calling on Buddha to help victims of land grabs and praying that court officials be “demolished.”
The mother of one woman in custody, Yorm Bopha, fainted and was carried away by ambulance. Yorm Bopha’s 8-year-old son, Lours Ly Hours, shaved his head and wept.
“We’ve held this prayer today in order to inform court officials that those who commit bad things will receive bad things, such as death, car accidents, plane crashes, or boat sinkings,” said Tep Vanny, a representative of villagers from the Boeung Kak development in Phnom Penh.
The demonstration was another sign of the protesters’ lack of faith in a court they say is biased toward government authorities and powerful development companies that have pushed them from their homes in the city and forced them to live in substandard conditions far from the capital’s center.
Court officials could not be reached for comment.
Protesters from the Boeung Kak and Borei Keila development sites, which have both seen forced evictions of most residents, submitted letters to foreign embassies seeking intervention in the cases of Yorm Bopha and Tim Sak Mony. Both were arrested earlier this month on charges related to demonstrations against development companies.