Protesters Seek EU, World Bank Presence at Yorm Bopha Hearing

Some 50 representatives of Phnom Penh’s embattled Boeng Kak community on Monday marched to the offices of the European Union and World Bank to request that the international bodies send observers to the upcoming Supreme Court hearing of anti-eviction activist Yorm Bopha on November 22.

Ms. Bopha is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for instigating the alleged assault of two taxi drivers, a charge widely believed to be an attempt to stop her activism against forced evictions.

Congregating at the Appeal Court at about 8:30 a.m. Monday, the Boeng Kak protesters—many wearing white paper masks with the words “I need justice” written across the front—first marched to the nearby Su­preme Court, where they were in­formed that Ms. Bopha’s hearing was scheduled for Novem­ber 22.

“The Supreme Court set the hearing…for November 22,” Su­preme Court clerk Chheang Vantha confirmed by telephone later.

Following the announcement of Ms. Bopha’s hearing date, the masked group then walked to the E.U. office on Norodom Boulevard, where some 200 riot police and Daun Penh district security guards lined the streets.

“We are asking the E.U. to help observe the hearing at the Su­preme Court, to find justice for Ms. Yorm Bopha,” said Boeng Kak pro­test leader Tep Vanny, who met a representative of the E.U. outside the building at about 10 a.m.

Ms. Vanny said the representative—who declined to speak to reporters—assured the demonstrators that their request would be passed along the relevant E.U. officials.

Poun Pok, the E.U. Delegation’s press officer, did not re­spond to a request for comment.

At the World Bank headquarters ac­ross the street, four representatives of the Boeng Kak community, including Ms. Vanny, were allowed inside the office to meet with Bou Saroeun, the bank’s spokesman.

“Mr. Saroeun said the World Bank would observe the hearing,” Ms. Vanny said following the meeting.

Contacted by telephone later, Mr. Saroeun denied this claim, and said the World Bank currently has no intention of attending the hearing.

“I just said that I will send her words to my boss,” he said.

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