A group of vendors whose stalls were torn down by provincial authorities in Slor Kram commune in Siem Reap province are expected to meet today with National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Prime Minister Hun Sen. They hope to negotiate an arrangement that would allow them to stay in business during construction of the new Leu market. “Most of us are doing no business right now because we are waiting to hear a solution from the government,” said Ean Vy, vendors’ representative.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee will attend the meeting as an observer. More than two weeks after authorities tore down the more than 1,000 stalls in the 20,000-square-meter Leu market to make way for a smaller market with more expensive stalls the 18 NGO-members of the action committee called for an investigation.
The committee had to send the issue through its Investigation Subcommittee before bringing it before the Action Committee for support. “That’s why we are late in issuing a statement,” said Yi Kosal Vathanak, Investigation subcommittee chair and Adhoc’s monitoring officer.
“We cannot do anything,” said Sok Sam Oeun, action committee chair and executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project. “We can only request that the government solve this problem quickly.”
By July 17 the few stalls still standing were fenced off. Vendors were offered a temporary site to conduct business, but the stalls were too expensive, Ean Vy said. Provincial authorities should have waited for a court resolution on the vendors’ protests before forcibly removing them and tearing down the market, Sok Sam Oeun said.
At least 14 vendors were beaten, handcuffed and arrested in mid-July by police “acting under the direct orders of Brak Chantheurn,” the Siem Reap Provincial Police commander, CHRAC said.
Siem Reap Deputy Governor Ung Ouen said at the time the vendors instigated the violence.