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Civil Society Organization Coalitions Condemn the Obstruction of Freedom of Expression and Peaceful Assembly by Rattanakiri Provincial Authority

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a coalition of 23 members and The Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (COMFREL), a coalition of 10 members, condemn the illegal suppression, disruption and obstruction of freedom of expression committed by the competent authority of Rattanakiri province against a group of human rights defenders and people participated in a workshop and in a peaceful march in order to support the Royal Government¢s policy for preventing from forestry destruction, illegal land grabbing and for preserving culture, tradition and the rights of the indigenous people in Rattanakiri province.

On December 19, 2007, some of 100 people rallied and marched in the provincial town of Rattanakiri in order to support the Royal Government¢s policy for preventing the forestry destruction was disrupted and dispersed by provincial authority and arrested a human rights officer of ADHOC provincial office, Mr. Pen Bunna, to the provincial court. On the same day, the competent authority also deployed police forces and engulfed the provincial office of ADHOC and they also searched illegally a house of ADHOC¢s human rights activist aiming at preventing the freedom of expression and rally. Prior to the disruption of marching activity, the provincial competent authority also disrupted the ADHOC workshop which was organized in order to promote human rights and law enforcement on December 18, 2007 .

The activities of disruption and suppression committed against such peaceful demonstration do not only show the violations of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression but also explicitly show that the provincial authority of Rattanakiri had not pay much attention to the enforcement of order made by the Head of Government in preventing from destroying forests which are the the state¢s properties in Rattanakiri province and make this order less valuable.

The above two civil society organization coalitions wish to appeal to the Head of Royal Government, in particular, the Ministry of Interior to consider and take urgent measures against the actions taken by Rattanakiri provincial authority in order to ensure that the order enforcement is in compliance with the will of the Royal Government in protecting the public interest especially the forest, land and other natural resources. Furthermore, the civil society organization coalitions also request the Royal Government to enshrine that the protection and promotion of the freedom of expression, peaceful march and the rights of the indigenous people are well protected as recognized by the Constitution of Kingdom of Cambodia.

( For more information, please contact:

- Mr. Thun Saray, Chairman of CHRAC/President of ADHOC, Tel: 016 880 509
- Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, Executive Director of CDP, Tel: 012 901 199
- Mr. Kul Panha, Executive Director of COMFEL, Tel: 012 942 017