1 Year Prison Sentences for Flood Protestors in Cambodia (Updated)

Update 14 November 2014

Since the initial sentencing of the 7 protestors (reported below) there have been further arrests and convictions, according to human rights group Licadho.

Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday 12 November convicted four additional protesters of obstructing public officials and sentenced each of them to one year in prison. The four had been arrested while joining a protest in front of the court to demand the release of the 7 flood protestors sentenced earlier this week.

Original Report 11 November 2014

Earlier this week seven representatives from Boeung Kak Lake community in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, were arrested as they protested outside city hall against flooding and defective water drainage facilities around Boeung Kak Lake. Today they were all handed 1 year prison sentences and fined 2 million Cambodian Riel (almost $500 US). The average income in Cambodia is about $750 per year.

Boeung Kak is an area to the north of the city that was, until around 5 years ago, a lake and large stretch of wetland. In 2007 the area was leased to Shukaku Incorporated. They embarked on the what is now known as the Boeung Kak land project, which involved filling in the 90 hectare lake for building land.

Boeung Kak is one of 6 of the city’s lakes to suffer a similar fate (see our report on Phnom Penh’s Lost Lakes). Apart from the forced mass evictions and questionable legality, filling in the lakes has removed significant parts of the city’s drainage system and replaced them with building land highly prone to flooding.

These days residents of the Boeung Kak are faced with flooding almost every time it rains. In attempts to get something done, representatives of the community have taken to protesting outside city hall. The activists blame the flooding on the filling of the lake.

1 Year in Prison

The seven arrested protestors – all of whom are women – have today been charged with obstructing public traffic (Article 78 of the traffic law) and are currently being transported to Prey Sar CC2 Prison, according to the human rights group Licadho.

They have been sentenced to one year in prison along with the payment of a 2 million Cambodian Riel fine each. Five of the group have previously been arrested for protesting against the flooding and poor drainage in 2012.

Boeung Kak Lake protests. Photo: Licadho
Boeung Kak Lake flood protests. Photo: Licadho