They’re known as the BK13 and they’re not prepared to let greedy developers take the very, very little they have. They’re 13 women – mothers, grandmothers – who live around what used to be Boeung Kak Lake – not far from the centre of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The lake has been filled in and many of their neighbours have been moved on – their houses flattened – but the BK13 aren’t going anywhere. They’re going to defend their homes with every ounce of energy they can muster. They’ll need to. …
Relatives and neighbors sang, cried and pleaded outside the Ministry of Justice yesterday for the release of the 14 women and one man arrested last week for protesting against CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin’s controversial Boeng Kak real estate project.
Worried by reports that the World Bank was preparing to lift a funding freeze it imposed on Cambodia last year because of the thousands of families evicted from Boeng Kak to make way for the project, NGOs in turn called on the World Bank to keep the freeze in place.
Thirteen of the detained women were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail on May 24 on what human rights groups have called “trumped-up charges” stemming from their peaceful protest against the senator’s project.
Another man and woman were arrested outside the courthouse and remain in pretrial detention.
The arrests and sentencing have sparked outrage from local and international rights groups alike, as well as near-daily protests with banners calling on the government to “Free the 15.”
Outside the Ministry of Justice yesterday, the sons and daughter of the jailed women taped photos of their mothers to their foreheads, clutched lotus flowers between their palms and sang for their freedom. …
Khuon Narim and Zsombor Peter, P. 23
Children of imprisoned Boeung Kak lake women pleaded for their mothers’ release outside the Ministry of Justice yesterday.
The demonstration, which included more than 200 Boeung Kak residents and activist monk Loun Savath, was held on the eve of International Children’s Day.
It also coincided with more than 100 NGOs writing a letter to the World Bank asking it not to end its suspension of new loans to Cambodia. …
Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Shane Worrell, P. 3