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Rights Worker Scuffles With Ratanakkiri Police

A human rights worker said he clashed with police Wednesday in Ratanakkiri province, following protests over land.

No one was injured or arrested in the small scuffle, which came after a peaceful march of about 150 people from nine communes, who say their land was stolen from them, said Pen Bunna, a rights investigator for Adhoc.

The northeastern province has seen increasing unrest due to land theft, with local police blocking several attempts at open public meetings between residents and rights workers.

Pen Bunna said his march was in support of recent directives by Prime Minister Hun Sen aimed at halting land theft by local authorities.

"A number of individuals in the authorities or the government officials in charge" were likely connected to police crackdowns in defiance of the prime minister, Pen Bunna said.

"He warned them many times, so those people are afraid," Pen Bunna said. "Every time there is a workshop on land issues, they look for means to stop us from doing what we want to do."