Rather than just the police and security guards who usually confront them, Boeung Kak lake protesters faced an additional obstacle preventing their converging on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house yesterday: CPP campaigners.
Dressed in party hats and shirts, a group of ruling party campaigners joined with police on Sothearos Boulevard in the capital to block the Boeung Kak lake protesters, who had earlier blocked Monivong Boulevard for the second day in a row.
Shouting through a megaphone, activist Kong Chantha called on authorities to let them through as they protested a violent attack, allegedly by a guard, which caused a Boeung Kak woman to miscarry on Monday.
“Please make way for us to meet our leader,” she said. “We need his help.”
In response, CPP campaigners shouted: “Vote for CPP – number four”, referring to the party’s position on the ballot.
Protesters tried to push through the blockade, but were unsuccessful.
Earlier, the Boeung Kak protesters had been supported by a group of about 100 foreign human rights activists from Canada and South Korea, including some from Amnesty International, as they blocked Monivong Boulevard outside City Hall.
“We’ve come here to support the Boeung Kak women and children in demanding fairness, justice and freedom for [imprisoned activist] Yorm Bopha”, said Jihong Min, a Korean member of AI.
But Long Dimanche, Phnom Penh Municipality spokesman, criticised the presence of foreign activists, saying they were effectively inciting the protesters.
“[A protest like this] does not change Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s land dispute procedure,” he said.
The event was almost overshadowed yesterday by the surfacing of three slickly produced videos on YouTube that emphasised the continued splintering of the Boeung Kak community.
The videos, uploaded about midday by a user called Hang Sangha, purported to tell the “true” stories behind Boeung Kak lake activist Tep Vanny – who is labelled “corrupt” – and imprisoned activist Yorm Bopha.
A key figure in the video is Tol Srey Pov, who was one of 12 women imprisoned with Vanny last year. Once a key figure at protests, she has since distanced herself from Vanny’s group and is now highly critical of her.
“[Vanny] likes blaming the government or individuals, but she’s not clean of corruption herself. She’s more corrupt,” Srey Pov says. “The money she collects from NGOs and overseas, she doesn’t declare to the community.”
Another interviewee, Boeung Kak resident Doung Kea, also accuses Vanny of corruption in the video.
Speaking to the Post last night, Kea said he was angry because the community, led by Vanny, had played a part in his home being cut out of the titling process.
“Tep Vanny is selfish and never thinks about the whole community. She has received her title. I am the real victim,” he said. He added he did not know who made the videos, while Vanny could not be reached for comment last night.
The Bopha video features the victims of an assault she is accused of ordering and motodop association president E Sophors, who also did not know who had made the videos.
“My organisation was interviewed by reporters from different companies, but I don’t know who made them. I haven’t seen them,” he said.