Security guards and passers-by stopped an elderly man from burning himself to death in front of the National Assembly on Friday morning in apparently protest at the loss of his land, police and witnesses said Sunday.
Around 9 am, Mom Sovann, 66, doused himself in gasoline, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a handwritten message appealing for help from CPP leaders Chea Sim and Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to a nearby street vendor who declined to give her name.
Security guards and drivers smelled gasoline as Mom Sovann, from Kandal province, made his way into the front parking area at the Assembly, and stopped him before he could set fire to himself, Chaktomuk commune police chief Chea Sothy said.
It was Mom Sovann’s second attempted suicide, he added.
“Last month, this man tried to climb up Preah Ang Dongka tower in front of the Royal Palace to commit suicide, but our policemen stopped him in time,” Chea Sothy said.
On Friday Mom Sovann was escorted into National Assembly President Heng Samrin’s cabinet office for questioning around 9:20 am, and was then taken to Chaktomuk police station before being sent back to his Kandal province village around 10:30 am, Chea Sothy said.
Takhmau district deputy governor Chum Socheat said the court ruled against Mom Sovann in a land dispute case some time ago, depriving him of his livelihood as a farmer.
Mom Sovann was carrying documents related to that court case on Friday, Chea Sothy said.
Mom Sovann lost his two sons, both government soldiers, in the 1980s, and then lost his land, leaving him with no way to support himself, Chea Sothy added.
“We tried to educate him and discourage him from committing suicide.”
On November 17, 2004, another man, Ouk Vorn, burned himself to death near Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh residence, but his death remains shrouded in mystery.