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Female prisoners begin hunger strike in Cambodian jail


Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

After being imprisoned for protesting against an eviction from land they once lived on, four women in Cambodia have begun a hunger strike, according to the Seattle Times.

The women were among 13 arrested and imprisoned last month at a protest at Phnom Penh’s Boueng Kak lake area on charges of aggravated rebellion and illegal occupation of land.

They were among 100 residents who demanded a meeting with city officials over their impending eviction from a site that had been their home through 2010.

Attempts to evict the families on land surrounding the lake in Phnom Penh have been on-going since 2007, when private development firm Shukaku bought Boeung Kak lake.

Shukaku is headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful men.

The protestors claim that promises of new land have not been kept, after the government awarded the original sites to a Chinese company to develop a hotel, office buildings and luxury houses.

Rights groups have expressed concern about police violence against protesters after a teenage girl was shot dead at another protest in the northeastern province of Kratie last month.

The authorities have been accused of shooting at least five times at unarmed men and women during disputes over land in the past seven months.

The families of the women and their neighbors have held several demonstrations, including one on Monday.  Around 100  people called on King Norodom Sihamoni to act on behalf of the women.

No action has so far been taken.

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