Free the 2!

Early this morning, members of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake and Borei Keila communities rallied outside the Ministry of Justice to demand the release of two female land activists, Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony. Bopha and Sakmony were arrested and detained in September,¬†after long advocating for community residents who are locked in 2 high-profile land disputes with private development companies.

Bopha is awaiting trial on a charge of intentional violence in an unrelated incident; Sakmony on a charge of making a false declaration in an attempt to secure an apartment for her disabled son. Rights groups say that both charges were designed to ‘silence the voices of victimized communities.’

Community members staged a demonstration outside the Ministry gates, with women ‘locking’ themselves in a mock cage set up next to a replica of the Scales of Justice. After a small run-in with authorities, a few community members were allowed inside the Ministry and were told the matter is being considered…

Supporters persisted for hours, as Bopha’s 8-year-old son cried out for the immediate release of his mother.

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