Timber Protesters Accuse Police of Intimidation

Pursat province farmers pro­testing a massive land concession awarded to timber giant Pheap­imex Co Ltd accused Military Police on Tuesday of dressing in civilian clothing in an attempt to intimidate demonstration leaders.

Um Hout, 60, one of the farmers’ representatives of Krakor district’s Kbal Trach and Angsar Chambak communes said military police disguised as villagers have visited the area in an effort to identify those who are leading the farmers in their protest.

“Previously they only used threatening words against us,” Um Huot said. “They want us to stop protesting against the company’s clearing of forest.”

The most recent incident oc­curred Dec 8 when five men wearing civilian clothing arrived at Kralanh village, said fellow villager Kuch Veng.

Kuch Veng, 41, said one of the men claimed to be a reporter for a Khmer-language newspaper and asked if they could go to a quiet place so he could ask questions about why the people needed to create a forestry community.

But Kuch Veng said he recognized one of the men as a military police officer named “Khom,” who often escorted provincial and district governors in the area. Nearly 40 villagers crowded around Kuch Veng to offer protection. The five men took three pictures of him, then left, he said.

“They wanted to arrest me to intimidate the other villagers so they would stop protesting against Pheapimex,” Kuch Veng said .

Non Sokha, chief of Pursat’s provincial military police, said  Tuesday he has an officer named “Khom” in his unit but denied that his officers were intimidating villagers.

“I never ordered them to threat­en the villagers,” he said. “Local, district and provincial Military Police never go out of the office to do anything without my order.”



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