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Police Blockade Village to Prevent Rights Meeting, Witnesses Say

Armed police prevented a public forum in Ratanakkiri province Tuesday that was intended to address land theft and local government malfeasance, witnesses said.

Police used vehicles and motorcycles to block the road to a village where a group of ethnic minorities were to meet officials from the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said Chhim Savuth, a rights worker with the agency.

About 200 people who came out to meet the rights workers 2 kilometers from the site where they originally planned to hold the meeting, he said.

Some of the crowd offered to "remove the police vehicles from the road," Chhim Savuth said. "But we told them not to do anything that could lead to violence."

No forum was held and a minority tribe chief called the blockade "a violation of human rights."

Authorities could not be reached for comment.