The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday sentenced two housing activists to three years in prison each on charges related to incitement in demonstrations. Supporters of Yorm Bopha and her husband, Lours Sakhorn, say they are being punished by the courts for exercising their right to assembly. Demonstrators gathered outside the court as the hearing was conducted Thursday. Riot police armed with electric batons held protesters at bay, and at least four women fainted after they were shocked with the batons. (Heng Reaksmey/Say Mony, Phnom Penh)
A US-funded cultural preservation project among Cambodia’s Cham Muslims has helped students learn to read and write in their traditional language and script. Some Cham are increasingly looking toward Arabic countries and organizations for support. And while this has caused some worry that the culture and some of its half a million people could fall under the influence of extremist groups, US Embassy officials say the project is not directly a counter-terrorism effort. (VOA Khmer Say Mony reports from Kampong Chhnaing)
Chan Soveth, a prominent rights investigator, appeared before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday, but he was not detained. Chan Soveth has been charged with abetting the escape of several suspects in a security crackdown in Kratie province earlier this year. Police say he helped several men escape who were wanted in connection with an alleged secessionist plot that has already landed a prominent radio station owner, Mam Sonando, in jail. Chan Soveth, who was accompanied to the court by officials from the US Embassy, was released after questioning. He briefly told journalists afterward that it was unclear what would happen next, but that he would appeal to have the charges against him dropped. (VOA Khmer's Heng Reaksmey/Say Mony, Phnom Penh)
Thousands of people are being displaced from their homes in Cambodia because of an aggressive dam building program. Hundreds of Chinese engineers have been brought in to help construct the dams which have drawn criticism from environmentalists and local residents. The Associate Press reports from Koh Kong, Cambodia.
Nearly 300 representatives from families in 24 provinces and cities issued a petition to the National Assembly Monday, calling for better government protection of their land rights and the prevention of violence in land disputes. The petition, which included 40,0000 signatures, says Cambodians have “suffered seriously” from forced evictions and land grabs, impacting their jobs, eduction and basic needs like food, shelter and health. It calls on National Assembly President Heng Samrin to help stop the evictions and have the courts release land activists who remain in jail. (Kong Sothanarith, Phnom Penh)
Leaders of the Cambodian-American community say they were pleased with the visit of US President Barack Obama to Cambodia in November, where he raised the issues of rights abuses and political freedom with Prime Minister Hun Sen. VOA Khmer's Men Kimseng discusses the visit and its implications for Cambodia with Prom Saunora, adviser to the Cambodian-Americans for Human Rights and Democracy organization, and with Kuch Chanly, a community rights activist.