Members of the League for Democracy Party have set up tents on state land in Kampot province where they intend to camp indefinitely in protest for their jailed colleagues.
About 50 party members and supporters converged on the quarter-hectare plot on a social land concession in Chhuk district’s Techo Aphivat commune on Wednesday, pitching dozens of tents and even preparing to grow crops.
The camp has been set up only a short distance from where 13 League for Democracy Party (LDP) members were arrested over the weekend by provincial authorities after being accused of destroying crops on the land.
“I have joined in pitching the tents because we want to find justice for the 13 members who were put in jail,” said Thanin Maraty, 26, an LDP youth member.
The jailed men have been charged with property damage and illegally claiming land, but party members say they had simply been defending the property of Ly Kim Hong, a party member who is involved in a long-running dispute with his sister over the plot.
LDP President Khem Veasna on Wednesday accused officials of attempting to seize and sell the land.
“Our supporters have pitched the tents…to protect the land because the provincial authorities are attempting to take this land and sell it to land dealers,” he said, an allegation he said was based on information from a local party member.
Mr. Veasna said he had sought legal representation to negotiate the release of his colleagues.
Sim Vuthea, deputy provincial governor, said authorities would seek permission to take action against the campers.
“I will send a letter to the Ministry of Land Management, Ministry of Interior and also to Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, and…we will take action to remove those people from the land,” he said.
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