A small group of 20 land rights activists led by Yorm Bopha, a former ‘Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience’, tried to reach Freedom Park in Phnom Penh for the second consecutive day in a month-long protest to resolve the land disputes they are involved in since years, and to free land rights activists jailed since early November. They were lured by the municipal security guards into the trap of a side street without an audience instead. The protesters staged a sit-in on that road blocked on both sides by security forces. At noon, pretexting to go back home for lunch, they slipped past the guards and held another sit-in on the esplanade near Wat Phnom.
Authorities refused the month-long demonstration at Freedom Park under the pretext that what the activists do is ‘beyond democracy’, that it would prevent other groups from protesting there, and that land rights activists don’t have the monopoly on protests.
The conciliatory atmosphere of the previous months which seemed to prevail after the Cambodian opposition party finally occupied the seats it won at the National Assembly after the 2013 elections seems to dissipate again. Both the ruling party and the opposition are using more aggressive quotes. Demonstrations by land rights activists are monitored more closely by security forces.
A group of land rights activists who wanted to start a month-long demonstration at Freedom Park was prevented from doing so by a deployment of municipal security guards and units of Military Police, forcing the protesters to settle for the esplanade in front of Wat Phnom.
The Borei Keila community held a protest in front of the municipal building. The villagers were evicted back in 2013 and have been living in apalling conditions near the place they were evicted from ever since.
Phnom Penh Municipality security guards confiscated a bull horn held by land rights activist Chan Putisak.
This is a follow-up post on the ‘Quest for Land‘ story which is available as an iApp on iTunes and which reports on land issues in Cambodia since the year 2000 with texts by Robert Carmichael and over 700 photographs.
The long hours of rehearsals added with the first attempts to add live music pay off for the rehearsals of Emmanuèle Phuon’s new choreography based on the Cambodian version of kickboxing.
The now classical ‘Embassy Tour of Phnom Penh’ was used yet again by supporters, buddhist monks and activists, to deliver a petition requesting the liberation of the activists and monks who were arrested in early November during land issues protests and promptly slammed with a 1-year sentence in jail, starting with the French embassy, which also received a flower arrangement as a sign of solidarity with the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ massacre.
Emmanuèle Phuon keeps pushing the bodies and memory of the dancers from Amrita, Rady, Thuy and Mo, to get what she needs for the new choreography she is working on, based on a Cambodian version of kickboxing.
Ten times, twenty times movements are repeated, modified, refined, changed, perfected: the rehearsals for ‘Brodal Serei’, a choreography by Emmanuèle Phuon with the dancers from Amrita based on Khmer boxing go on and on and on…
A short movie presentation can be seen HERE.
A slideshow about Khmer bowing can be seen HERE.
Khet Vannak and Thach Sang, buddhist monks from the Stung Meanchey pagoda, and Seung Hay, buddhist monk from Kampuchea Krom, appeared at the Appeals Court. The first two were defrocked and arrested for carrying banners and poles to Samaky Reangsey pagoda to be used for a land issue demonstration on November 12th 2014. Seung Hay was defrocked and arrested the previous day during a demonstration in front of the Municipal Court (movie of his arrest HERE).
Supporters, activists and buddhist monks held a demonstration in front of the Appeals Court, requesting the three be freed.
UPDATE: bail was denied. All three monks will return to the Prey Sar prison.