Four Beaten in Market Eviction: Rights Worker

Four vendors at Battambang prov­ince’s Thma Koul market were beaten and arrested while resisting evict­ion on New Year’s Eve night by police and military police, a rights worker said.

The market vendors, many of whom have been working at Thma Koul since the 1980s, have been pro­testing the eviction notice they were served Dec 27 stating that the mar­ket would be closed as of Jan 1.

The vendors were instructed to relocate to a new market nearly 1 km away where they have to buy 10-year leases on stalls for $2,000.

Chhim Savuth, a Cambodian Cen­ter for Human Rights investigator, said Tuesday that 40 police and military police arrived at the market late Monday and began dismantling market stalls and erecting a met­al fence around the market.

“They shot two bullets into the air. No one was injured by the shoot­ing,” he said, but one vendor, Run Sros, 20, was beaten on the head with a baton and then ar­rested.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Run Sros, Huot Kim Hay, 23, Ning Poly, 24 and Luy Sambath, 31, were still in detention, Chhim Savuth said.

“No law states that any removal or eviction has to be done at midnight. It was not business hours. They should implement [their action] before 5 pm. Police violated the law,” he said.

Thma Koul district Governor Ouch Eang and district police chief Koy Kosal both said by telephone Tuesday that the four arrested were just “gangsters” who had gath­­ered outside the market to drunk­enly carouse.

Ouch Eang claimed the only reason police went to the market on Mon­day night was because of the drunk­en villagers. He also claimed that police built the fence around the market on Tuesday during the day and were helping vendors take apart their stalls upon request.

“Vendors dismantled their stalls vol­untarily,” he said.

Koy Kosal denied that his officers beat anyone.

Vendor Yin Ra, who has been protesting the market eviction, said Tuesday that with the construction of the fence any last hope of re­main­ing at Thma Koul has been quashed.

“I have no choice except to move from the market because the fenc­es are built around the market,” he said, adding that those arrested were a mix of vendors and relatives of vendors.

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