Rights Group Condemns Threat Against NGO

The Geneva-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders yesterday called for intervention in the Preah Vihear governor’s effort to shut down an NGO that supports ethnic Kuoy people who are fighting a land-battle with a Chinese sugar company in the province.

The Observatory called for “an end to acts of harassment” against four Kuoy community leaders, the NGO Ponlok Khmer and human rights defenders in Cambodia after Preah Vihear governor Oum Mara on April 1 sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior asking it to shut down the NGO.

Mr. Mara’s letter charged that the NGO had incited the Kuoy villagers to burn a sugarcane plantation owned by Roy Feng Inter­national Co. Ltd.

Chhay Chhaly, coordinator for the Human Rights Defenders project, said yesterday that Ponlok Khmer had only monitored the protest and had done nothing illegal.

Ponlok Khmer executive director Ang Cheatlom said that he had not heard from the governor or the Ministry of Interior since the letter was sent.

The governor, Mr. Mara, said he was busy preparing for Khmer New Year and would not answer questions.

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