About 20 police threatened to remove 60 protesters from in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house near Independence Monument Friday afternoon, protesters said.
The protesters, vendors from Phsar Boeng Keng Kang in Chamkar Mon district, have been standing in Hun Sen Park for four days, hoping to plead their case personally to the premier. They said they are upset and confused over the municipality’s demand for five years’ rent on stalls they claim they already own.
Baton-wielding police arrived Friday at about 3 pm and threatened to use fire hoses to remove them, protesters said. Police denied they made the threat.
“We are only here to protect social order,” said Municipal Police first lieutenant Hy Sarin. “Any action is up to the order from municipality.” Police left the park at about 4:30 pm.
Protesters plan to return to the park Saturday, and said they would continue appearing in the park until they meet Hun Sen.
Several protesters said they heard Hun Sen had been told the protesters were karaoke girls now out of work because of the recent closing of karaoke bars and nightclubs.
“Hun Sen might not know the truth. We came here to ask for his help,” said one protester, who noted the premier waved to the market vendors from his helicopter Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the municipality offered to cut the vendors’ rent in half. The municipality owns the land under the small market, located near Street 63 north of Mao Tse-tung Boulevard.
The original rent demand was send to the 1,416 vendors last month, asking for up-front payments of $100 to $300 from each vendor, depending on the size of their stall, for a five-year contract from January 2002 to December 2006.
Deputy Governor Chev Kimheng first issued a notice ordering the vendors to pay the rent by Nov 30 or face eviction.
The vendors protested two weeks ago in front of the National Assembly.