More than 200 people from the group Land Communities for Peace marched from the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to the National Assembly on Thursday in defiance of a ban issued by City Hall.
Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng said the protest would not be allowed after meeting on Monday with representatives of the group, who told him of their plans to lead a march of more than 1,500 villagers from across the country to raise awareness of deforestation, land disputes and problems related to economic land concessions.
But the crowd of 200 marched unhindered after gathering on Norodom Boulevard outside the ACU building at 8 a.m., where 10 representatives entered the building and delivered a petition to officials.
An hour later, the marchers headed down Street 154 chanting slogans including “No more corruption, no more deforestation” and “Corruption is the obstacle to development.”
The group then turned onto Sisowath Quay and walked to the National Assembly to hand over a second petition.
Mom Sakin, a representative from Kratie province, said that ACU officials had welcomed the group and assured them that they would discuss the issues raised with the unit’s president, Om Yentieng.
Seng Sokheng, from Oddar Meachey province, said that the villagers had come to petition the ACU and lawmakers directly on land-related crimes, which he said were on the rise.
“[Local officials] have turned a deaf ear to our concerns and problems so we have come here to ask [the ACU] to carry out investigations,” he said.