Human rights workers said that at least three people were injured Wednesday morning when military police in Siem Reap tried to oust nearly 100 people from homes on the grounds of a former military hospital.
The three were hurt when they tried to remove their belongings from homes set afire by police, said an investigator with local rights group Adhoc.
Siem Reap Governor Chab Nhalivudh acknowledged that a “squabble” took place “when police tried to move out materials” from the compound.
But Military Police Chief Prach Chanthoeun denied that authorities took violent action. Instead, he said, people threw rocks at police, and one woman may have scraped her arm in the scuffle.
“We have been nicely requesting those living in the property…to move out since January 1999,” Prach Chanthoeun said. He said any order to oust the residents would have had to come from the national defense ministry, not local officials.
Siem Reap officials have disagreed about the property’s rightful owner since it was relinquished by the departing Vietnamese military in 1989, according to an Adhoc report.
Chab Nhalivudh said Wednesday that the property belongs to the Ministry of Defense.
An Adhoc investigative report said that military police since 1992 have hassled families living in the hospital.
The Adhoc report said residents requested that military and local police postpone any action at least until the end of the rainy season.