|Boeung Kak lake and Borei Keila residents protest outside the Royal Palace yesterday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post|
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Shane Worrell
The Phnom Penh Post
The 13 Boeung Kak lake women imprisoned after a three-hour trial on May 24 were tried unjustly on charges that had no basis, according to a Cambodian Center for Human Rights report released yesterday.
CCHR argues in the 17-page legal analysis that the women, sentenced from one to two and a half years in prison, were expressing their right to freedom of assembly and expression when arrested at Boeung Kak lake on May 22.
“There do not seem to be any valid and legal reasons why limitations or restrictions should be applied to the defendants’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly,” the report says. “The defendants participated peacefully in a protest, which is protected under domestic and international law.”
CCHR president Ou Virak said the women’s sentencing, which came two days after their arrest and hours after they were charged with disputing authorities and occupying land awarded to developer Shukaku, was a “gross miscarriage of justice”.
“From a careful analysis of the facts and an application of the law, it is clear . . . the entire judicial procedure was a flagrant breach of the women’s fair trial rights,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ou Kong Chea, husband of imprisoned Boeung Kak village representative Tep Vanny, expressed further concern yesterday at four of the women prisoners’ decision to go on a hunger strike that began on Sunday.
“I am extremely worried about the health of my wife because she has suffered from a stomach disease for many months,” he said.
His concerns came as Boeung Kak and Borei Keila villagers successfully delivered petitions to King Norodom Sihamoni asking for the 15 Boeung Kak prisoners, including Ly Chanary and Sao Saroeun, to be released and for their land disputes to be resolved.
Yaom Bopha, a representative of Boeung Kak villagers, believed the King would intervene.
“Otherwise, many children will be motherless,” she said.