Tuesday, July 15, 2014

At border, authorities get in way of activists

The Phnom Penh Post - Mon, 14 July 2014

Soldiers and police blocked a group of activists and monks in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district from visiting a section of the Cambodia-Vietnam border on Friday, activists said yesterday.

Oeu Narith, president of the Peace Youth Group, said armed forces stopped a group of about 200 opposition-aligned activists from reaching the border, where he claims Vietnam is encroaching on Cambodian land.

“I feel suffering because our government does not care about the border and is letting Vietnam move into Cambodian land. Khmer blocked Khmer from visiting the border.… We can’t accept this and we condemn it,” Narith said.

The activists had planned to visit the area following a ceremony in a nearby pagoda in Prek Thmey commune but authorities said they needed permission beforehand, Narith said.

“[You] can’t go out of the pagoda.… When you plan a trip like this, you must inform the authorities. But you did not,” a police official says in footage of the altercation.

Villager Sieng Ol said Friday’s blockade was not unusual.

“Police don’t ever allow us to enter to the place near the border post,” Ol said.

Authorities denied the claims.

Koh Thom district police chief Muy Chan Pich said he had tried to help the activists.

“We accompanied them to the border and told them not to cross over in case the Vietnamese arrest them,” Chan Pich said.

He added that the police were not responsible for controlling who was allowed to reach the demarcation post.

Border officials could not be reached.

In a separate incident last month, about 100 plainclothes men, some wielding sticks, tried to block a group of opposition activists and youth supporters in Svay Rieng province from reaching a disputed section of the Cambodia-Viet-nam border.


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