Sun Lap gave a safe birth to her fourth child Sunday afternoon—in the makeshift tent where she camps alongside families outside the National Assembly protesting a fishing grounds grab.
The 30-year-old mother is one of 90 people belonging to 25 families from Kompong Thom province who have been camped out in Phnom Penh since April 30. They claim their fishing grounds have been encroached on by powerful businessmen.
Interviewed Monday as she lay on a poorly built cot, warmed by a small fire beneath her, Sun Lap admitted that “it is really unusual that I have protested until I have my son here.”
She said she didn’t go to the hospital or a clinic for the delivery because she doesn’t have any money. She said she was lucky that one of her fellow protesters was a midwife, and thus able to help her give birth to the son.
“I borrowed 40,000 riel from other people to pay for some things” including incense sticks to burn for good luck, she said.
Sun Lap did not name her new-born son, but her friends and fellow protesters named him Rothsaphea, which means “parliament.” Sun Lap agreed to the name.
“Naming him with this name is pretty interesting, because it can show off our struggle here in front of the parliament,” said the midwife, Un Thy.
Sun Lap, who is not the first to have a child while protesting across from the National Assembly, was brought a bed by visiting Third Deputy Kompong Thom Governor Kang Bunthan.
Some protesters said Kang Bunthan’s visit was an optimistic sign. He came to Phnom Penh hoping to get protesters to go back home, and promised to work out the dispute. Most remained skeptical of whether their disputes will be solved properly.
Several protesters explained that their 6-km wide and 12-km long fishing ground in Kompong Thom’s Phat Sanday area, situated at the bottleneck of Tonle Sap lake and river, were partly encroached by the company that holds adjoining fishing lot 4.
Kang Bunthan promised to solve the dispute. “Protesters have to go back home and talk with local authority,” he said. “It is no use to stay here because the parliament can’t solve anything.”
“I am still not hopeful about the meeting because we were cheated a few times already, but we have to go and see if there will be a new change that can be acceptable to us,” said Sam Hoeun, one of the five representatives.