Council of Ministers secretary of state Keo Remy wants to see female police officers controlling female protesters at future demonstrations, he said at a press conference on Friday.
Mr. Remy said female protesters have adopted a new “style” of demonstration under the direction of NGOs who he said are in the business of supporting protests.
“Now they [demonstrators] have many styles—some people run to hug authorities when they are protesting, using their hands to push and slap authorities, but when authorities push back, there is a photographer to shoot them to show that the authorities are using violence,” Mr. Remy said.
“Some others strip off their clothes and now we must have female authorities to run over and hold scarfs or sarongs in front of them,” he said. “The City Hall force has female police…the men cannot hold the sarong or clothes to put on the protesters and cannot touch their skin.”
But the Interior Ministry said no such plans were in place.
Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said Sunday only male officers make up the municipal and national riot police used to control demonstrations.
“We don’t have female officers,” Mr. Sopheak said. “At the moment we don’t use female police for anti-riot operations.”
Phnom Penh municipal police chief Chuon Sovann could not be reached for comment and his deputy chief, Chuon Narin, hung up on a reporter when asked about Mr. Remy’s suggestions.
Chhay Kimhorn, a representative of Borei Keila land dispute protesters, said that sometimes demonstrators have no other choice but to strip off their clothes.
“If Keo Remy or his family had been forced to move out of their land, what would they do?” she said.
Tep Vanny, an activist from the Boeung Kak lake community, said sometimes the suffering of land rights activists can only be expressed in extreme ways.
“We do not have any other choice,” she said. “We can only cry or strip off our clothes to express our suffering of losing our lands.”