Rights Worker Threatened by Khun Sear Guards

Guards employed by real estate magnate Khun Sear who have allegedly been terrorizing three families at the center of a land dispute in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district threatened last week to kill a human rights worker, the victim and rights groups said.

Vann Sophath, a land reform project coordinator for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), went to the site to monitor the situation and record footage after guards known to work for the Khun Sear Company had once again gathered outside the home of Ly Sreang Kheng, whose family has received the brunt of the company’s threats and intimidation over the past year.

The group of six men met the rights worker when he approached the property in Boeng Kak 1 commune at about 4:30 p.m. wielding an assortment of weapons and shouting abuse that made him fear for his safety, Mr. Sophath said Tuesday.

“They came at me with axes and cleavers and pushed me in the chest forcing me to move from the land and told me that I could not escape them and that they would kill me for photographing them,” he said.

“Right now, I am considering whether to take the matter to court to sue the security guards of the company,” he added.

Yim Leang, chief of Senate President Chea Sim’s Bodyguard Unit and a business partner of Khun Sear, said that he did not know anything about the incident.

“I am unaware of the case but if he believes that someone threatened to kill him then he should file a complaint with the police,” he said, referring further questions to Khun Sear’s lawyer, Nach Try, who also denied knowledge of the incident.

Families who have been locked in a land dispute with the wealthy tycoon have accused the guards of a campaign of harassment including multiple attempted arsons and threats.

The Geneva-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders released a statement Tuesday condemning the latest threats by the company and calling on the government to take action.

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