The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) on Monday launched a one-month campaign designed to highlight “gross human rights injustices” committed by state security forces against civilians since July’s national election.
CCHR will collect 5,000 signatures for a petition to be sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen demanding “a prompt, public, independent and comprehensive investigation of the disproportionate use of excessive force by Cambodian security forces to crack down on protesters.”
The petition will also call for an “end to the cycle of impunity for the perpetrators by bringing them to justice; and uphold victims’ right to justice and remedies, including reparations.”
The “Where Is My Justice?” campaign was launched to coincide with the U.N. International Day for the Right to the Truth. It included a new video report featuring interviews with families of victims of state violence since post-election protests started in September.
“I was far away from him when my son died unjustly,” says Keo Samnang, whose son, Pheng Sam, was shot dead by military police on Veng Sreng Street during minimum-wage garment protests on January 3.
“I have raised him since he was a child and he died at the age of 23—can you imagine?” the father asked.
Chhiv Phanit’s husband, Sam Ravy, was killed during the same clashes. Footage from the video shows him—glassy-eyed and limp, with blood pumping from a wound in his chest—being put on the back of a motorbike.
“Please arrest his murderer and sentence him in accordance with the law,” Ms. Phanit says.
Khat Samneang held her baby daughter close and cried as the video showed a photograph of the limp, bloodied body of her husband Khim Phalleap—also a garment factory worker—being carried from the scene at Veng Sreng.
The 24-year-old widow says her 25-year-old husband was branded a gangster.
“My husband was a gentleman and never argued with people,” she says, adding that she wants compensation from the government for her husband’s death.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said that that the families’ best hopes are to go through the country’s notoriously corrupt courts.
“The court is a proper place for Cambodian people to lodge complaints seeking compensation from the state,” he said. “Someone needs to come up with some proof.”