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Protesters injured as guards fire

120119_04

Security guards for the agro-based company TTY Co Ltd opened fired on villagers in Kratie province’s Snuol district yesterday morning after they protested in an attempt to keep the company from clearing their cassava fields. Four were injured, while one man is in critical condition.

Heng Chivoan/ Phnom Penh Post
Ly E Sar, 27, recovers at a hospital in Kampong Cham after being shot by a security guard from the TTY Corporation Co yesterday in Kratie province’s Snuol district.

After the four were shot, villagers blocked national road 76A, demanding that the government expel the company from the province and revoke their licence.

Keo Van, a villager from the Phi Thnou commune at the protest, said that about 10:30am, security guards opened fire on the villagers after they pleaded with the guards to let them harvest the cassava before the company cleared their land.

The TTY company received an economic land concession in 2008 on more than 9,000 hectares of land in Snuol district.

“They said to us that if we did not leave, that one or two people would die. We did not allow them to clear our land, and after they spoke, they took five AK-47s and opened fire. They shot at us like a fight during the war. They ran and followed the villagers into the jungle to fight them when they fled for safety,” he said.

He confirmed that three men and one woman were injured after being shot.

“We decided to block the road to inform the Ministry of Interior of the issue and want the government to find a resolution for us,” Keo Van said.

Neth Rottana, who was shot in the arm, identified the others injured as Mong Toch, 22, Ly E Sar, 27, and Sren Krya, 23, adding that one man remains lost in the jungle.

Three of the shooting victims were initially sent for treatment at a hospital in Kampong Cham, while one remained in Snuol district. The severity of Mong Touch’s wounds required his eventual transfer to a hospital in Vietnam.

“Mr Mong Touch is hopeless and was sent to receive medical treatment in Vietnam. They [security guards] do not regard us as human beings, they regard us as animals,” she said.

Provincial police chief Choung Seang Hak said that the security guards involved with the shooting were in no way related to his provincial police office.

“Those persons did not work as police in my province, I heard that they are company bodyguards, but I don’t know where they are from,” the police chief said.

Provincial governor Kham Phoeun said he went down to the area where the villagers had blocked national road 76A in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate.

“We promised to stop the company from clearing the land, provide compensation for the people who were injured, investigate and arrest the persons who shot them and find a resolution to their land dispute. They did not listen to us,” the provincial governor said.

Snuol district governor Iv So Phum vowed to find a resolution for villagers yesterday by requesting the company refrain from clearing the villagers’ land, as well as appealing to high-level officials to find a resolution to the dispute.  

“I am responsible for the villagers who were injured, by getting payment for their medical treatment and finding the security guards who opened fire so they can be sentenced according to the law, but they [villagers] will not listen to me. So how can I negotiate?”

He said the villagers demanded the company withdraw from the province or they would destroy its property. 

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the actions of the company were cruel and the government should arrest the shooters.

“The company is responsible for their security guards who shot the villagers,” he said.

“The prime minister said that soldiers, police and military police could not work to protect private companies. So, why did they [security guards] have guns? Where are they from?”

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