Boeung Kak and Borei Keila activists holding posters of Yorm Bopha demonstrate outside the South Korean Embassy in Phnom Penh, May 8, 2013.
The newly appointed governor of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh has
vowed to re-examine two bitter land disputes that rocked the city under
his predecessor’s term after meeting activists involved in the cases,
his spokesman said Wednesday.
But Governor Pa Socheatvong, who took office on Monday, will not
intervene on behalf of a jailed campaigner, Yorm Bopha, who had
vigorously championed the evictees' right to housing.
Pa Socheatvong will review the cases of residents locked in disputes
in the Boeung Kak Lake and Borei Keila area by next week, spokesman Long
"He will begin the work of leading the city for a week first and then
he will examine the villagers’ documents,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service.
The new governor met on Tuesday with representatives from the two
communities, who said he promised them a swift solution to the disputes,
the local newspaper The Phnom Penh Post reported.
The meeting marked a departure from the policies of his predecessor
Kep Chuketma, who refused to meet in recent years with the activists,
who have staged countless demonstrations in the city on behalf of
residents evicted to make way for luxury developments.
Long Dyman said Pa Socheatvong will not be intervening in the case of
Yorm Bopha, a leading Boeung Kak activist who was jailed last year in a
case critics have said was “manufactured” to target her for speaking
Her case is beyond the governor’s authority and only the courts can decide what happens to her, he said.
Yorm Bopha, 29, who has been held since early September, was
convicted by the Phnom Penh municipal court in December for committing
“intentional violence" in connection with the beating of a suspected
thief, and in March the Supreme Court rejected her bail plea.
She has been named an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience
and local rights groups have said her case smacks of political
interference and should be thrown out.
Stepped up protests
Borei Keila and Boeung Kak activists have stepped up their protests
in recent weeks, calling for Yorm Bopha’s release and demanding the city
issue land titles for 64 Boeung Kak families excluded from a
On Wednesday the activists staged a demonstration in front of the
South Korean embassy and presented petitions to embassy officials, who
did not give any assurance that they will raise the issue with the
Boeng Kak community representative Tep Vanny said the residents have
turned to ask foreign embassies for support because they are
disappointed with the government and Prime Minister Hun Sen for delaying
an resolution to the disputes.
"South Korea is a democratic country, so we think they have a duty to intervene our case," she told RFA.