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Housing Activists Swiftly Convicted After Monday Arrest

Tep Vanny of Boeung Kak lake is blocked by riot police officers during a protest rally near the prime minister's residence in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Seven housing rights activists who were arrested on Monday were convicted and sentenced to a year in prison in an unprecedented trial on Tuesday.

The activists, who were protesting poor flood management in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake neighborhood, were charged with creating disorder on a public road.

Boeung Kak was heavily developed by a real estate company, including the filling in of a major lake in the city. Major flooding there now is blamed on the development, which also displaced thousands of impoverished families.

The sentenced activists include Tep Vanny, who was recognized for her work last year by the US-based Vital Voices Global Partnership.

The activists were sentenced to a year in prison and fined $500 each.

“This is unfair,” several activists said when the verdict was issued late Tuesday.