Court Summons Four Indigenous Representatives for Incitement

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Fences on land in Mondulkiri. (VOD)

Indigenous community representatives who say they filed a complaint against a company for encroaching on community forests have been summoned to court over defamation and incitement.

The court summons names the complainant as Kak Ratana from the company Villa Development, and orders Kroeung Tola, Ploek Phyrom, Ploek Navy and Khvoeung Tum to appear at the Mondulkiri Provincial Court on April 26 for questioning over defamation and incitement.

Phyrom said on Friday that she had not heard from the courts or received the summons, but knew the company since she had filed her own complaint against it in recent weeks.

“We are protecting our land. They are planning to clear 100 hectares,” Phyrom said. “We make a living on that land.”

The community had already lost around 1,000 resin trees in the area, she said. “If we lose all of them, what can we do?”

She said Villa Development was a rubber plantation that arrived to the area in 2008, and it had encroached on community forests since 2012.

A phone number for Ratana listed with the Commerce Ministry did not connect.

Tola, a prominent activist and coordinator for the Mondulkiri Indigenous People Network who has faced previous legal actions against him, including fines for defamation, told VOD that he planned to appear at the court because the representatives did not “incite or defame.”

Phyrom has also faced previous legal troubles, including a reported conviction for aggravating a land issue under the Land Law, for which she, Navy and Tum purportedly received two-year jail sentences but were not taken into custody.

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