In authorities’ attempts to force Phsar Leu market vendors to move to a new space in Siem Reap province, military police have gone as far as knocking one girl unconscious and breaking another woman’s arm, according to opposition lawmaker Son Chhay.
Siem Reap Deputy Governor Ung Ouen defended the military police, saying the vendors instigated the violence last week. He also said the officers were “patient” in their response to verbal attacks from the vendors. Seven vendors were detained at a military base for six hours before their release on Tuesday, according to vendor Seing Leang.
A public hearing took place Thursday with vendors, police, local government and NGOs to find a solution, but none has been found yet, vendor spokesman Tan Savy said Sunday. Authorities have already knocked down 60 percent of the stalls with a bulldozer and vendors have filed a complaint to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Son Chhay and two other lawmakers went to Siem Reap last week to mediate in the conflict that resulted in a four-day showdown between the two parties, with police surrounding the market and the vendors refusing to go. The police have been ordered to relocate the vendors to temporary stalls 200 meters away while Phsar Leu market undergoes a $1 million renovation.
The vendors are against it because they are expected to foot half the bill, according to Son Chhay. Hun Sen had said the vendors could rebuild the market themselves, so 60 percent proceeded to rebuild their stalls for an average price of $120, vendor spokesman Tan Savy said.
But this method was abandoned when a new plan of relocation and renovation was imposed by local lawmakers, who Son Chhay accused of profiting from the plan.
And despite Hun Sen’s most recent decree that the vendors leave before July 20, they are staying put in protest. “We demand a vendor majority before a decision is made about market renovations,” Tan Savy said.