Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protesters again fill streets

Protesters again fill streets

A Boeung Kak lake protester shouts through a loudspeaker at a protest in front of Phnom Penh’s National Assembly
A Boeung Kak lake protester shouts through a loudspeaker at a protest in front of Phnom Penh’s National Assembly yesterday, demanding extra compensation for the land they were evicted from. It was one of a growing number of protests in the capital this week. Vireak Mai

Protesters again fill streets

Any hopes the ruling party might have entertained that a political deal with the opposition signed almost a month ago would help to defuse societal tensions would have faded yesterday, with three separate protests taking place across the city.

Rights groups say demonstrations have been on the rise in recent weeks, while Phnom Penh deputy police chief Chuon Narin described the current protest situation as “very messy”, though he said authorities were largely refraining from cracking down.

More than 200 Kampong Speu villagers rallied outside ANZ Royal bank offices yesterday, demanding compensation for alleged land grabbing perpetuated by sugar tycoon Ly Yong Phat, who financed his agro-concessions with loans from the bank.

Village representatives said the bank reiterated its position that affected families would have to deal with Yong Phat’s Phnom Penh Sugar directly, because its dealings with the firm had concluded.

Efforts by a few hundred workers from Xin Chang Xin garment factory in Russey Keo district to claim money they say is owed to them were similarly unsuccessful after a march to the Ministry of Labour.

“We will burn tyres in front of the factory tomorrow and then walk to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to ask him for help, because we have lost hope in the Labour Ministry,” said Neak Norm, vice president of the Workers Union Federation.

A group of Boueng Kak lake evictees also took to the streets yesterday, protesting outside the National Assembly to ask for further restitution from City Hall and private developer Shukaku Inc.

Yesterday’s demonstrations follow a raft of others in recent weeks by groups including Kampuchea Krom nationalists, families affected by an Asian Development Bank-funded railway rehabilitation project, youth groups and factory workers.

Provincial communities embroiled in land disputes have also marched to the city, such as villagers from Lor Peang commune in Kampong Chhnang and Snuol district in Kratie.

After being blocked several times by authorities on their way to Phnom Penh, including being physically attacked and having three of their group arrested, 70 Lor Peang villagers involved in a dispute with KDC International are now staying with Boeung Kak lake community members.

A villager from Kampong Speu is escorted from an ANZ bank branch during a protest in Phnom Penh
A villager from Kampong Speu is escorted from an ANZ bank branch during a protest in Phnom Penh yesterday where villagers demanded compensation. Pha Lina

Visiting them yesterday, opposition leader Sam Rainsy decried the actions of KDC – owned by Chea Keng, the wife of Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem – as “cowardly, cruel and vulgar”.

Neither Keng nor Sem could be reached yesterday.

Nay Vanda, deputy head of human rights at watchdog Adhoc, said it was clear that the end of political deadlock would not end protests.

“It will not stop; it will only increase more and more.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio

    Two leaked audio tapes, purportedly of Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking candidly to senior officials, appear to hint at insecurities within the ruling party over the controversial dissolution of the country’s main opposition, with the premier warning that the party’s “struggle” didn’t

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • Music festival promises big stage, has even bigger hopes

    With a line-up of local and international artists, and a massive outdoor venue booked on Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, Saturday’s Diamond Moon Festival is aiming to showcase contemporary musical and artistic talents at a scale rarely seen in the Kingdom. [img] But the