Boeng Tamok Protesters Go Into Hiding, Believe Arrests Imminent

Two community representatives protesting evictions around Phnom Penh’s Boeng Tamok lake have gone into hiding fearing arrest by authorities, one of the activists told RFI.

Boeng Tamok is one of the last lakes left in the capital, and is quickly being filled with sand to make way for property developments. Much of the lake area has been allocated to politicians’ families, military generals and others, including Land Minister Chea Sophara’s daughter Chea Sophamaden, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister Hun Sengny and military police commander Sao Sokha.

Lakeside residents, however, are being told to relocate.

Prak Sophea, a prominent Boeng Tamok protester, told Radio France Internationale in a report published Tuesday (August 15) that she had gone into hiding because Prek Pnov district authorities were seeking to arrest her. She did not disclose the basis for her fear, and RFI was unable to reach government authorities for a response.

Sophea told RFI that authorities were accusing her of trying to foment a color revolution, and added that another community representative had also fled from the community. She did not say whether they had left the country.

Sophea and other protesters have been repeatedly summoned to court for allegedly obstructing public officials and other charges, such as incitement.

Last year, a court prosecutor said 16 people had been summoned for questioning over a complaint filed by the head of the Prek Prov district security guards. Nine residents received additional charges in February, according to CamboJA News. Another summons followed in July, after a clash over a small community bridge built for accessing fishing areas.