Three imprisoned land activists intentionally injured themselves on Friday in an alleged suicide attempt after being confined in their cell for two days, according to their families and a fellow inmate.
Tep Vanny, Kong Chantha, and Bor Chorvy – all from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak community – reportedly hit their heads against the wall on Friday morning until they fell unconscious after being denied any time outside of their cell in Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Centre 2.
A phone recording obtained yesterday purportedly shows a fellow prisoner recounting details of the incident to Vanny’s husband, Uo Kongchea.
According to the inmate, on Wednesday and Thursday prisoners were not granted their usual daily recreational time, leading to complaints from the Boeung Kak activists.
“When Tep Vanny’s group complained loudly, the prison guards just shouted at them that because all of you like to cause trouble [that is why we are detaining you], and if you want to get out, you can kill yourselves,” the prisoner said.
After the guard’s alleged threats, the inmate said that the three activists began banging their heads against the wall “until they bled and fell unconscious”.
“Suddenly, those prison guards quickly opened the cell and called an ambulance from the Cambodia-Soviet Friendship Hospital to take Kong Chantha since she got the most terrible injuries.”
Staff at the hospital could not be reached yesterday to confirm the account.
Kongchea, who visited his wife on Saturday, said that Chantha had returned to the prison.
But, he said, he was becoming increasingly concerned about the physical and mental health of his wife and the other Boeung Kak activists, who have been detained since November when they were convicted of violating the Traffic Law by blocking a road during a protest.
“The actions of my wife and the other Boeung Kak women reveal the extent of their serious mental problems and the bad intention of the prison guards who want to kill my wife and other prisoners indirectly by using inciting words”, he said.
The United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that all inmates should be granted at least one hour of outdoor recreation time every day.
CC2 director Khloth Ratana, and Kuy Bunsorn, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, declined to comment yesterday.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, called on the ministries of justice and interior to investigate the case.
“If the case is found [to be] as those Boeung Kak women have claimed, please punish those prison guards,” he said.