Violence Against Eviction Protesters Condemned

State security forces on Wednesday beat at least 10 anti-eviction protesters during a march near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh home, according to protesters and human rights groups who condemned the police violence. One of the protesters lost three teeth. Another said that police broke her arm.

Municipal security guards carry Leng Chin to a waiting police truck during an anti-eviction demonstration in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. Rights groups criticized what they said was an excessive use of force against the protesters by security guards and police. (Siv Channa)
Municipal security guards carry Leng Chin to a waiting police truck during an anti-eviction demonstration in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. Rights groups criticized what they said was an excessive use of force against the protesters by security guards and police. (Siv Channa)

The roughly 30 residents of Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood were hoping to deliver a petition asking for the release of jailed fellow activist Yorm Bopha, when they say they were blocked a few hundred meters from the prime minister’s city residence at Independence Monument by some 60 police, military police and municipal security guards.

Ms. Bopha’s husband, Luos Sakhorn, who had three of his front teeth knocked out, said the police and security guards started punching the protesters when they tried to push their way through to the prime minister’s house.

“Now I can’t walk because 10 security guards came to twist my leg, and they punched me in the mouth and I have three broken teeth,” Mr. Sakhorn said moments after the melee. “It was very brutal.”

Nhak Sophat, another activist, said her arm was broken when police pushed her to the ground.

During the clash, police dragged and carried three of the protesters into a waiting police truck, but soon let them go. One of the men fainted when he was pushed into the door of the truck during a violent scuffle with the security guards and police trying to detain him in the truck.

Daun Penh district deputy po­lice chief Preap Borei denied that his officers had hit anyone.

“The police did not beat any of the Boeng Kak residents. They only pushed each other,” he said, referring to both sides in the scuffle.

“The beating of protesters has no place in a society that respects the rights of its citizens,” local rights group Adhoc said in a statement. “An investigation should be launched into today’s vicious attack and the perpetrators brought to justice.”

Several other groups, including rights group Licadho, housing rights groups Equitable Cambodia and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT), as well as the local committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, issued a joint statement denouncing the violence.

“Beating and arresting people will not make the problem go away,” STT programs coordinator Ee Sarom said.

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