Conflicting Figures on Number of Slain at Garment Protest

The opposition CNRP has placed the number of striking garment factory workers shot dead by military police at Friday’s protest in Phnom Penh at six, party President Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.

The number is one higher than the five deaths reported by staff at three hospitals in Phnom Penh to journalists on Tuesday and two victims more than the figure collected by local rights group Licadho.

Mr. Rainsy released a list of six names on his Facebook page Wednesday, adding Kheng Kosol, 23, to a list of those killed by military police that the CNRP had compiled by Sunday.

The names of some of the deceased or their spellings as well as their ages also differed.

On Sunday, the CNRP said Kim Phally, 29; Yean Rithy, 26; Sreng Vibol, 22; and Ouk Pheak, 23, had been confirmed dead at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, and that Sam Ravy, 26, had been confirmed dead at Calmette Hospital.

Chhoeng Yav Yen, deputy director of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said Tuesday that four protesters from the Veng Sreng Street protest had died at his hospital, while staff at Calmette confirmed the death of one further protester.

Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, said that only four people had been confirmed dead by her team of two assigned to investigate reported deaths of protesters at Phnom Penh hospitals.

“We have two doctors in three hospitals—Calmette, Russian and Kossamak—and we photographed and spoke to the doctors and the relatives. We can confirm four dead,” she said.

Ms. Pilorge said that the Licadho doctors had confirmed Pheng Kosal, 24; Yean Rithy, 24,; and Kim Phollin, 29, as having been recorded dead at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, as well as Korng Rav, 25, as having been recorded dead at Calmette.

She added that she does not believe that others—Sreng Vibol or Kheng Kosol who appear on the CNRP’s list—have been recorded as being dead at a hospital, but said it was possible they could have died and not been brought to a hospital.

She added that Mr. Yav Yen told Licadho staff Wednesday evening that only three dead protesters had in fact been recorded at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.

Mr. Yav Yen could not be reached to verify the figure.

Chan Soveth, senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said that his organization has still only recorded five people dead, adding that he was aware of Mr. Rainsy’s figure of six, but he does not believe that a sixth protestesr is in fact dead.

Mr. Rainsy said the difference in the figures could be attributed to the different methods of investigation.

“There is one who has not been accounted for…who has been sent to his home village. They [local rights groups] have counted the bodies at the morgue, but we know that one is dead already but was never sent to a morgue,” the opposition leader said.

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