A group of protesters chanting slogans at the gates of the Bayon TV station in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Tuesday turned on a commune security guard, chasing him down and beating him and damaging his motorcycle.
Some 200 protesters who were walking to demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Labor stopped at the Stung Meanchey branch offices of Bayon TV—a pro-CPP channel owned by Hun Mana, the daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen—and began shouting and damaging property, according to a Bayon TV security guard.
“They cursed us and tore down two banners that hang on the gates of the station,” said the Bayon TV security guard, who declined to be named.
“They were shouting ‘change [the name of] Bayon TV to Bay Kdaing,”’ the security guard said. Bay Kdaing is a Khmer term describing the often burned and discarded rice stuck to the bottom of a cooking pot.
Around 9 a.m., about an hour after the protesters had taken up their position at the Bayon TV offices, Stung Meanchey commune security guard Taing Meng Ngy arrived to film the fracas but was set upon by the crowd, who accused him of beating monks at a previous demonstration.
When the crowd turned its frustration toward Mr. Meng Ngy, witnesses said, the commune security guard attempted to drive away from the angry mob on his motorbike, but turned down a dead-end street where the demonstrators caught up with him.
“I saw about five people detain the man and hit him with a few punches while other people took rocks to smash his motorbike,” said one of the onlookers, who declined to give his name for fear of retribution.
Another local who lives on the street where the attack took place said that many witnesses were afraid to get involved in the incident.
“I saw the man speak on his walkie-talkie shouting for help and for the neighbors to help him, but all the people were too scared to help him,” said the woman, who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of revenge attacks. “We could only shout for them to stop.”
Mao Savoeun, police chief in Stung Meanchey commune, where the attack took place, said that those responsible for the attack were striking workers from nearby SL Garment Factory and referred further questions to the commune office.
On Tuesday evening, commune chief Seng Sanh said that Mr. Meng Ny was at home with minor injuries and had received donations.
“[Meanchey] district governor gave Mr. Meng Ny 1,000,000 riel [about $2,500] and the commune office has donated 280,000 riel [about $650],” Mr. Sanh said.