Chaos Ensues as Police Begin Park Sweeps

Nighttime police raids on some of Phnom Penh’s parks have turned into free-for-alls, with fleeing young women, cops on motorcycles in hot pursuit and hundreds of arrests, witnesses said Wednesday.

“Anything you have on your body, they take,” said Soeun Ri, who works in the brothels near Hun Sen park in Daun Penh district.

Usually a lot of groping is involved in pat-downs as police manually check for money be­neath bras, she said.

Soeun Ri joined dozens of other women and girls Tuesday night in a late-night flight from police near Hun Sen park, she said.

One Phnom Penh resident who saw the police sweep of the park said there were women fleeing police on motorcycles “every fifteen minutes.”

“It was crazy,” said Daniel So­der, a visiting photographer. Women and girls were grabbed by the hair, thrown into waiting “paddy wagons” and hauled away by police in the raids, he said.

Women like Soeun Ri taken in the arrests are kept overnight and told if they were caught in the park late at night again they would be sent to Prey Sar prison, she said.

The park sweeps are necessary, officials say, to keep disorder from spreading in the city.

The parks recently have become late-night hangouts where youngsters and teens are often seen purchasing and engaging in sex, Phnom Penh Go­vernor Chea Sophara said last week.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Soun Chheangly said Wed­nesday that hundreds of arrests have been made by police who raid the parks.

Chhin Chanpor, deputy municipal military police chief, said anyone in the parks after midnight is considered “bad,” and will be arrested and educated.

“We understand about the human rights,” he said.

“But we are the local authority. We have a duty to protect the people,” he said.


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