A protester was injured during a confrontation between Lor Peang villagers and Kompong Chhnang provincial police Friday after the group was blocked from marching to the provincial hall, according to villagers and a right worker.
More than 60 villagers attempted to march from a local pagoda to the provincial hall, where they wanted to file petition for the release of two men jailed in connection with an ongoing land dispute with KDC, a company owned by Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem’s wife, Chea Kheng.
Villager representative Oum Sophy said the group’s progress was blocked by roughly 50 police deployed along the road and a brief scuffle broke out between the two sides.
“During the confrontation with police equipped with shields and batons, a fast-moving police truck drove toward us, hitting a villager,” she said. “If our villagers and their young kids had not been quick to escape from the speeding police vehicle, we would have been killed by the speeding vehicle.”
Ms. Sophy said the injured woman, Yong Mao, was taken to the provincial referral hospital with a suspected broken arm. However, Kong Chanmony, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said an X-ray showed the arm was not broken.
“The authorities and police should have not stopped the villagers since those poor people had no intention to use violence,” Mr. Chanmony said.
“They just wanted to voice their concerns and wanted to submit a petition to the authorities for a resolution to the land dispute they have battled for years.”
Deputy provincial police chief Ly Virak dismissed the allegation that a police vehicle sped toward the crowd of protesters and said police did not use violence.
“We peacefully communicated with villagers and they were also able to submit paperwork to the provincial governors, it was not a big confrontation,” he said.
Following the brief confrontation, villagers were able to petition provincial governors, local CNRP and CPP officials and the provincial court to demand the release of the two men, the dropping of charges against other eight others and to resolve the dispute, said villager Snguon Nhoeun.
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