Opposition leader Sam Rainsy met with families still living along the railway in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district on Thursday to pledge his support in their campaign to ensure that an Asian Development Bank-funded railway rehabilitation project does not leave them worse off, as it has for hundreds of other families in the city.
Almost three-and-a-half-months after being expelled from their village for allegedly practicing sorcery, an ethnic Jarai minority couple is again under pressure to leave their new home from villagers fearful the pair possesses evil powers.
Romas Vem, 80, and his wife, Sev Soy, 50, who are alleged by locals to have supernatural powers, were chased out of their village by hundreds of angry neighbors after a handful of people in O’Yadaw district’s Somtrak Thmey village fell ill in August. The couple have now received death threats and are being pressured into leaving the nearby village of Somtrak Chas.
“Since they both have to live in temporary housing at another village, they have faced new threats against their lives since people there do not welcome their presence, fearing the couple will again use black magic to make them ill or kill them,” O’Yadaw district police chief Ma Vichet said Thursday.
Mr. Vichet said district police are scheduled to meet today for the fourth time with local authorities and elder Jarai members with influence over the community at the Som Thom commune office in an effort to secure the couple’s safety.
“At [the] meeting, we will decide to form a sub-committee to solve the matter of threat against people’s lives who are alleged to be a sorcerer,” he said.
“Some beliefs and traditional practices being implemented by indigenous minorities should have been eradicated, such as this case of sorcery,” Mr. Vichet added.
Romas Chhoeun, the accused sorcerer’s grandson, said he hoped his grandfather finds a home where he will be safe.
“We don’t want them to be expelled from place to place. They legally own the land in their home village, so they have legal rights to live there, but they have been intimidated and threatened with being chopped to death,” he said.
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