Second Protest Calls on Michelle Obama to Intervene During Visit to Cambodia

Approximately 100 people that have suffered from land grabbing and forced evictions from the BKL, BK, SOS, Thmor Kol, Toul Sangkae A-B communities (including children and monks) gathered in front of the US embassy on the morning of the 21st of March 2015. They called for the First Lady of United States, Michelle Obama, to urge the Cambodian government to release the 11 female activists who were wrongly imprisoned. This was a follow-up action to a similar protest on the 17th of March when they had submitted a petition and drawings from children of the jailed activists.

During the demonstration, some people could be seen holding photographs of Mrs. Obama, American and Cambodian flags, lotus flowers, and banners with the words, “Welcome Mrs. Michelle Obama to Cambodia”, “Free the land activists”, ”Wish you have a nice trip”. The children, who have not seen their mothers since November of last year, wore black headbands with messages saying “Release my mother”, “My mother did not commit any crime” and calling for help from Mrs. Obama.

A protester from BKL, Mrs. Om Sa Khorn (63), claimed that the arrests and sentences were unjust and hopes Mrs. Obama will consider those suffering from land grabbing and other human rights violations in Cambodia. Mrs. Om also said that the villagers of BKL hope the First Lady will intervene on behalf of the land activists and monks that remain in prison.

Although there was no official police presence during the gathering, at least 30 under-cover police were deployed onsite. There was no response from the US embassy and the protesters decided to go home at about 9:15am.

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