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Month-long Protests Planned Over Housing Rights

Cambodian land eviction victims and Buddhist monks shout slogans during a rally in front of the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Housing rights activists say they are planning a major demonstration in Phnom Penh later this month.

At least four groups of activists will take part in the demonstrations, Jan. 20 through Feb. 20, organizers said Monday.

“I don’t want to lead a demonstration, but I have no choice,” said Yorm Bopha, an activist from the Boeung Kak lake development, where thousands of families have been forcibly evicted since 2008. “I have waited a long time to see a solution, but so far I have seen nothing.”

Organizers say they want a stop to four “land grabs” and the release of 19 jailed activists.

Long Dimanche, a spokesman for the city government, said he has not seen an announcement from the activists, but he said the city would not allow such major demonstrations “against the government.”

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said party members and activists will not join the protest, but she will accept a petition from the groups at the National Assembly or opposition party headquarters.

Violent demonstrations in July led to charges for many activists, and the jailing of 19 of them. Similar demonstrations last January led to a violent government crackdown, killing five.