M’kiri Governor Says Minorities Lacked Permit

Mondolkiri Provincial Governor Thou Son said Tuesday that he prevented two ethnic minority villagers from leaving the province to attend an NGO workshop in Phnom Penh because they did not have his permission.

Em Veasna, an investigator with rights group Human Rights Vigil­ance of Cambodia, identified the two men as Por Le and Krang Sar­ath, both of the Phnong ethnic mi­nority, and blasted what he said was an increase in human right abuse in the province.

Em Veasna said the pair, from O’Reang district’s Sen Monorom commune, had been on their way to a Nov 11 conference organized by NGO Peaceful Women for the En­vironment when they were de­tained for questioning by district and commune police in Sen Mon­or­om town on Thursday.

The officer demanded to know who had given them permission to leave the province, Em Veasna said.

“Villagers have suffered an in­crease of human rights abuses from government officials,” he said.

“People have the right to walk, the right to take part in social activities and so on.”

Thou Son said he made the move in accordance with Interior Ministry policies requiring villagers and officials to request permission from the provincial government to attend NGO workshops.

“We need to get a copy of a form asking permission to attend workshops because we are worried about their security and safety,” Thou Son said.

“That is why we need clear and detailed information and require them to inform us of where they are going,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak did not answer re­peated calls.

Sen Monorom commune chief Outh Saroeun said he had re­ceived a notification letter from the villagers about their trip to the capital but their letter was not forwarded to provincial authorities.

The restrictions on travel has led or­ganizations to refrain from inviting people from Mondolkiri prov­ince to their events, said Sen Mon­orom commune council mem­ber Hor Phlil.

“I have been invited to take part in many social workshops on hu­man rights, environmental issues and so on,” Hor Phlil said.

“But recently many human rights organizations and other groups don’t invite me, because it is really hard to get permission from provincial authorities,” he said.

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