outspoken land rights activist yorm bopha denied bail

by Tim Phillips

Thousands of Cambodians are fighting eviction, as developers have received the right to develop areas where people already live. Very few people have land titles after the Khmer Rouge abolished private property and almost all such documents were destroyed. As a result, the state claims to own upwards of eighty percent of Cambodia’s land. According to yesterday’s BBC article,

The bulldozers moved in to start demolishing the flimsy houses around Boeng Kak lake in 2008. There have been clashes with local residents ever since. Some have been beaten by riot police as they tried to block the developers, other[s] have been arrested and charged. Many of them are women.

Yorm Bopha is one of the land rights activists who has been jailed for protesting the evictions. Incarcerated since September 4, she was convicted on December 27 of assault, a trumped-up charge, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. On Wednesday, the Cambodian Supreme Court denied Bopha’s request for bail pending her appeal.

To quote Texas-based intelligence contractor Strategic Forecasting Inc. (Stratfor), which compiles dossiers on activists, “as protest movements grow, authorities will act more aggressively to neutralize the organizers.”