PHNOM PENH - Cambodian authorities are warning land and rights activists not to hold protests when the country hosts Asean leaders for a series of summits in Phnom Penh next week.
Protesters who do try to gather for the summits will be met with a crackdown, said Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
Cambodia is hosting an annual Asean leaders summit, along with the East Asia Summit, which will be attended by regional leaders, as well as US President Barack Obama and other high-profile Western leaders.
“We will do everything…to protect the security of top leaders joining the summit,” Khieu Sopheak told VOA Khmer.
Land grabs for rural and urban development projects have created a mass of ongoing protests, particularly from ousted residents of the Boeung Kak and Borei Keila neighborhoods of Phnom Penh, who are highly organized and consistently hold demonstrations that often lead to violent clashes with police.
That has included numerous protests against the September detention of two land activists from the communities, who are still being held by the courts on charges widely considered spurious.
Representatives from the two neighborhoods told VOA Khmer Monday they would continued to hold demonstrations, despite the warning.
The government created the problem by arresting the activists, said Tep Vanny, an outspoken activist. To solve it, the authorities need to release the two, she said.