Siem Reap Provincial Court detained and then released a young woman who was arrested for inciting violence during a protest at a Buddhist pagoda in Siem Reap district, police and officials said.
So Socheat, 23, was freed on bail Thursday after her mother Chan Ly, 53, promised the court that her daughter would not stage any more protests against the Reachbo pagoda in Sala Kamroeuk commune’s Wat Bo village, provincial prosecutor So Vat said Thursday.
Since 2000, over 50 village residents have been locked in a dispute with the monks at the nearby pagoda, who are trying to have them evicted from land on which they have lived since 1979. The monks claim the land is theirs and that they need to expand the pagoda.
“She is really offensive, which is why we arrested her,” So Vat said of the released woman.
So Socheat was arrested Wednesday morning for inciting villagers to violence during a confrontation with 30 district and military police outside the pagoda, said Siem Reap district police chief Theoung Chendarith.
Mohanikaya Buddhist sect Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, who supports the pagoda in the dispute, declined comment last week.
Tep Vong’s Cabinet Chief Choeng Bunchhea said that neither Tep Vong nor the pagoda had the money to compensate the villagers for their lost land.
However, Tep Vong is paying for the construction of a two-story building for the pagoda on the land in question, Tuy Hoy, director of the provincial department of cults and religions, said on Sunday. “Some people are still protesting,” he said.
“But the construction of the Buddhist high school building is underway. Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong is using his own money to build that school building because the wat and our department are unable to pay for it,” Tuy Hoy added.
CPP lawmaker Sieng Nam has offered 4-meter-by-20-meter plots of land to the 18 affected families living to the west of the pagoda, and would work to resolve the dispute with the 40 families living to the north of it, So Vat said.
Sieng Nam could not be reached for comment.
Chan Ly, a villager representative, said that the villagers would decide in a week whether to accept the offer.