A force of several hundred military police officers in riot gear ejected Prince Sisowath Thomico from Wat Phnom late Friday night, where he was conducting a hunger strike.
“We were forcefully expelled,” Prince Thomico said later by telephone. “Some monks who were with us were mistreated and insulted, but no one was injured.”
The Prince said that his group of eight monks and 12 civilians did not resist, as the protest was intended to be peaceful.
He also said he would continue his hunger strike, but was considering his next move.
“They will expel us again and likely expel us earlier [rather] than later,” he said, in reference to continuing his hunger strike in a public area.
Officers at the scene said the Prince left on his own accord and without resistance.
One military police officer, who asked that his name not be revealed, said that he was upset at the treatment of the Prince.
“He [the Prince] was not bothering anyone. I’m a military police officer, and I do not like this,” he said.
Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s representative in Cambodia, said the Prince was safe and that he had left voluntarily when military police arrived to avoid conflict.
Earlier in the day, Prince Thomico, who stood in the July election for the CNRP in Preah Sihanouk province but did not secure a seat, began his hunger strike to protest the outcome of the vote with the goal of finding “justice for the Cambodian people.”
The Prince was supposed to begin his hunger strike at the Royal Palace, but the area was cordoned off by police.
Instead, he said prayers at a shrine at Wat Phnom and then, dressed in a white tunic and slacks, said he would remain at the park and seek shelter under a kiosk for the remainder of his vigil.
“I believe the CPP is making a coup the same as Lon Nol did on March 18, 1970,” when he deposed then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk, he said as he began the hunger strike.
“If you look at the way the CPP has handled the elections and post-election period, it’s the same…. They had troops come into Phnom Penh.”
As for why he decided to go on a hunger strike, Prince Thomico said: “Because that is the ultimate…. I am giving my life away for the people of Cambodia so they understand the Royal Family is with them and defend their rights and seek justice for them. It’s very important for me as a prominent member of the Royal Family.”
Before being ejected, as rain fell over the city, Prince Thomico had said he retired to one of the kiosks at the temple hill and was joined by “about 30 people,” some of whom were monks. He had said some of the people also vowed to join the hunger strike.
He had said he would stop only if an “acceptable” solution is found to allegations of electoral fraud.