Overview: The Campaign to Free Bopha and Sakmony!

Sept. 5: Day 2 of the campaign. Approximately 60 Boeung Kak and Borei Keila villagers gathered at the Municipal Court to free Bopha and Sakmony. Sakmony’s trial was also on this day. After the trial Sakmony was sent to CC2 prison by SUV.

Sept 7: Day 4 of the campaign: Approximately 70 community members gathered at the Council of Ministers. The purpose of the demonstration was to submit a petition to ask for an intervention – Phay Siphan and Touch Naroth came out to accept the petition. Villagers walked along Monivong Boulevard to the Council of Ministers. There were approximately 200 mixed police present, most were riot intervention police.

Sept 10: Day 7 of the campaign. Approximately 50-60 villagers were obstructed from accessing the National Assembly and Ministry of Justice in order to submit a petition asking for release of Yorm Bopha. Barricades were put up and despite villagers persistent efforts all roads out of Boeung Kak lake were blocked. Over 100 mixed police were present.

Sept 17: Day 14 of the campaign. Around 70 villagers went to the French Embassy, the US Embassy and the UK Embassy to submit petitions to release both Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony. Villagers also wore nests on their heads to represent the idea that everyone needs a ‘nest’ or a home, the ‘eggs’ represented the children who were left without mothers. Villagers sang land and solidarity songs outside of all the embassies while asking for intervention.

Sept 19: Day 16 of the campaign. Some 50 villagers went by tuk tuk to the EU residence and the World Bank in order to ask for intervention. Petitions were submitted and representatives came out to accept them. The villagers also designed creative banners showing their sadness caused by the way the Government’s “development” policy is affecting their lives. Around 30 mixed police (mainly municipal police and undercover/civil police) present.

Sept 21: Day 19 of the campaign. Around 100 villagers from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila gathered at the Japanese Embassy. The children sang songs asking for a solution, justice and freedom for Bopha and Sakmony as well as asking for the government to demarcate the 12.44ha. A representative from the Japanese Embassy came out to receive the petitions. Afterwards both communities went to the Australian embassy to also ask for intervention. Police presence was minimal.

Sept 25: Day 23 of the campaign. Over 150 villagers gathered outside the Municipal Court at the beginning of Pchum Ben season. They brought chilli, salt, voodoo dolls, burned incense, and sang songs to remind the people inside the court that when they die they will face the consequences of what they have done to others. These consequences are most sensitively felt around Pchum Ben period where people pray for their ancestors and pray for good merit for them.

Sept 26: Day 24 of the campaign. GDCC meeting at Wat Phnom – over 100 villagers participated in a demonstration outside. They wore white, with peace hats, made origami birds, lotus flowers, made banners asking the government to not exclude families from the 12.44ha, stop destructive development, Free Bopha, Free Sakmony. Sadly no one came out of the morning meeting to receive their petition but there was a heavy police presence and no violence reported. After their demonstration they marched back to Boeung Kak via the US embassy and submitted another petition; traffic police had to close roads in order to respond to the large number of villagers marching away from Wat Phnom.

Oct 8: World Habitat Day. At National Assembly, 500-600 people from 40 different communities joined together with various groups such as CCFC, CYN, IDEA, BKL, BKK, DK, Democratic Association etc and partner NGOs.During the event, those present submitted a petition to the National Assembly to make Cambodia an Eviction and Land Grab Free Zone. The group also called for the release of Bopha and Sakmony. Only 30-40 mixed police present including civil police taking photos of participants. After the event, Boeung Kak, Borei Keila and the Democratic Association marched to the Royal Palace in order to ask for intervention to release Bopha, Sakmony and Mam Sonando.

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