Boeung Kak women visited by MPs

Shane Worrell and Khouth Sophak Chakrya, Phnom Penh Post , June 05 2012

Thirteen Boeung Kak women locked in Prey Sar prison after a three-hour trial on May 24 are threatening to go on a hunger strike in protest, an opposition Sam Rainsy lawmaker said yesterday.

A team of SRP MPs, including Mu Sochua, was granted access to the prison yesterday to check on the health and well-being of the 13 and another Boeung Kak woman, Ly Chanary, who was arrested outside the women’s trial.

“They told us their health is OK and none of them are being tortured, but they miss their families,” lawmaker Keth Khy said, adding that the MPs had been the first visitors the women had been allowed to see.

“The women told us they want to hunger strike. We asked them not to do this and accepted their request for us to approach the King to ask for their release,” he said.

Mu Sochua left for the US after the visit, where she will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Keth Ky said.

“Mu Sochua has promised to ask her to intervene,” he said.

Mu Sochua called for Clinton to take action immediately after the women’s three-hour trial and sentencing.

“I’m calling on the international community to suspend aid,” she told the Post on May 24, adding that financial contributions from overseas should no longer be given directly to the government, but to NGOs.

Families, friends and supporters of the Boeung Kak 15, which also includes Sao Sareoun, a man, visited Prey Sar on May 26, but were not allowed in.

When the Post visited last Wednesday, guards prevented members of rights group Licadhoand reporters from getting close to the fence the women were being kept behind.

The 13 women were arrested at Boeung Kak lake on May 22.

They were charged two days later with disputing authority and illegally occupying land owned by Shukaku, CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin’s firm.

Ly Chanary and Sao Sareoun were later charged with the same offences.

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