Victims of Human Rights Abuses To Meet King

Some of Cambodia’s most dis­ad­­vantaged citizens—including a representative of villagers em­broiled in a land dispute with timber giant Pheapimex Co Ltd—will have a chance to raise concerns about human rights abuses with King Norodom Sihamoni as part of the International Day for Hu­man Rights on Friday, rights work­­­­ers said.

Thun Saray, director of Adhoc, said about 400 people are expected to march from Wat Botum to the Royal Palace, where represen­ta­tives will meet the King. “We would like to highlight some of these issues to the King and find ways he can help us,” Thun Saray said. “We don’t know how far he can help us, but we can ask.”

While the number of politically-motivated attacks has declined over the past year, land confrontations and the number of arbitrary de­tentions is up, Thun Saray said. The government has also cracked down on numerous pro­tests and even restricted which ban­ners could be displayed for Fri­day’s march, he said.

Licadho President Kek Galabru said she will introduce King Siha­mo­ni to a victim of domestic violence, a drug-addicted street child, a woman who was prohibited from holding a demonstration and vil­lager from Pursat province in­volved in the land dispute with Phe­api­mex.

On Wednesday, villagers from Pur­sat and Kompong Chhnang provinces, who were targeted in a Nov 12 grenade attack while pro­testing against Pheapimex’s land concession, said they were hopeful the King could help prevent the company from clearing swaths of forest to build a paper-pulp plantation.

The villagers said they hoped that Prime Min­ister Hun Sen would be present so they could de­liver petitions from three districts most affected by land con­ces­sions to Pheapi­mex. “We really need his Ma­jes­ty’s and Samdech [Hun Sen]’s in­ter­vention, otherwise the forest will be gone,” said Kuch Veng, a rep­­resentative for vil­lagers in Pur­sat’s Krakor district.

Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng said Wednesday he did not know whe­ther the prime minister had time to join the meeting with vil­lag­­ers because he meets with the Council of Ministers every Friday.

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