Phnom Penh. A Cambodian woman who led protests against her community’s forced eviction saw her conviction for a street brawl reduced to two years in jail after her appeal to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday.


NachrichtenagenturYorm Bopha, 29, was sentenced to two years in prison and one year suspended for beating up motorcycle drivers in a fight with the help of her brothers, who are on the run. According to some reports, the fight only broke out after Bopha witnessed the drivers allegedly stealing mirrors off cars and tried to stop them.

Local human rights organizations say the verdict is designed to intimidate the Boeung Kak Lake community, which has been involved in a four-year-long battle with the state about land rights and against their eviction. Cambodian human rights non-governmental organization Licadho called the verdict “outrageous.”

“I’m very upset about the verdict,” Virak Ou, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, told dpa on Friday. “It doesn’t make sense given the evidence and the international and Cambodian pressure.”

“The only reason I can find is (Prime Minister) Hun sen trying to show that he can not be challenged on how he rules,” Virak added.

Amnesty International has called Yorm Bopha a “prisoner of conscience.”

Meanwhile, heavy rain drenched some 400 protesters carrying signs outside of the court and sitting on puppets representing corrupt officials to show their support for Yorm Bopha.

Virak said Boeung Kak activists were protesting in front of Hun Sen’s house Friday night. One hour later, he said two women were injured by police forces, one only minorly, while the other had passed out and was taken to the hospital.

Local rights groups estimated that more than 300,000 people across the country of 14 million have been forced off their land since 2004.

Author | Sarah Thust

Last Update | 14.06.2013

Licensed | dpa – German news agency

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