Rights Workers: Soldiers Opened Fire at Protesters

Three villagers were left injured and one was arrested on Friday after RCAF soldiers allegedly opened fire during a land dispute in Battambang province’s Bavel district, rights work­ers said Monday.

Yim Meng Ly, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said eight RCAF Brigade 53 soldiers fired several shots at protesters.

He added that the soldiers open­ed fire after being surrounded by some 300 villagers.

The dispute concerns tens of thousands of hectares of land contested by 1,656 families and RCAF Brigade 53, which is blocking ac­­cess to the land, rights workers said.

Protester Soy Sokha, 43, was shot in the leg while Chin Ret, 55, and Prak Chan, 36, were both shot in their hands, Yim Meng Ly said, adding that villager Prak Chan was hospitalized after his finger had to be amputated and Oeun Mao, 45, was arrested following the incident.

A complaint by villagers about the incident made to the commander of Military Region 5 in Battambang states that 300 villagers from Ampil Pram Daem commune in Kam­rieng district were stopped by two soldiers while attempting to visit their representative, Chhea Ny.

Chhea Ny was arrested Nov 20 and detained by the military over the land dispute.

After stopping the villagers the soldiers allegedly demanded the arrest of Oeun Mao, who was in the group, but villagers blocked the soldiers path, inciting the conflict.

Oeun Mao was captured and taken to the Kamrieng district army base, rights workers said. Chhea Ny and Oeun Mao are both RCAF soldiers, rights workers said.

Military Region 5 Commander Bun Seng declined comment.




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