Authorities in Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district yesterday came to block an NGO from holding a public forum in a village, saying they had not obtained adequate permission.
The Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community yesterday morning held a public forum with 40 villagers on the topic of community development in Romeas Hek district’s Ampil commune.
Meoun Rathana, a deputy secretary of CCFC, said that the organisation had already informed authorities but were still blocked from holding their meeting.
“We held it with villagers on developing the community only, but the authority is afraid of us having a meeting with each other and talking about politics. That’s why they blocked us,” he said.
Mr Rathana added it wasn’t the first time a CCFC programme had been blocked by authorities even after it had already obtained permission
“We only had 40 participants, not 100 people, so we first informed the commune level,” he said. “Those officials from the commune level will then inform the district and provincial level. The authority is truly discriminating against activity by our NGO.”
Soun Seyha, a villager in Romeas Hek district, said participants of the meeting were victims of land disputes who were only to receive training in the agriculture sector.
“We must meet with each other to share ideas and experiences in the agriculture sector but when we gather to meet, we always get banned by authorities,” he said. “We think we don’t have any freedom to gather and talk about community development.”
Sam Samol, police chief of Romeas Hek district, said authorities checked and found that CCFC had not informed them about the forum.
“We did not block them, we just checked them. They did not officially inform authorities. We do not discriminate against them, they just prefer to have meetings without acquiring permission,” he said.
In October, authorities in Svay Rieng province also stopped CCFC from holding a chicken-raising workshop with villagers, accusing them of not having obtained permission to do so.