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Security guards accused of beating

Security guards working for a firm building a resort in Koh Kong province beat a woman who was trying to farm the land from which she had been evicted, she has told police.

Khun Phall, 40, said that on Monday evening, she and family members returned to plant rice on the farm from which they were evicted last year to make way for a Union Development Group (UDG) project, she said.

When accosted by 15 security guards ordering the family off the land, Phall refused to leave, she said. The confrontation then turned violent.

“They slapped me, beat and kicked me, and they destroyed my motorbike,” Phall said yesterday. “They are so cruel.”

A security guard working for UDG, who said he was present during the alleged beating and spoke to a Post reporter on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the attack occurred. It was necessary to remove Phall from the property, he said.

“The security guards forced the woman to leave under orders from the company,” the security guard said. “The woman refused to leave, that’s why the guards forced her.”

Multiple attempts at reaching UDG officials yesterday were unsuccessful.

Botum Sakor district deputy police chief Pen Sophorn confirmed he received the complaint and said the department will investigate.

The alleged beating also caught the attention of the United Nations, said Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights country director Wan-Hea Lee.

“This is on our radar,” Lee said. “If true as reported, it would certainly be an issue we would need to look into with the company.”

In Kong Chet, coordinator for rights group Licadho, called the alleged incident “atrocious”.

“They violated [Phal’s] human rights,” Kong Chet said. “This company always uses violence against villagers and have burned down their houses before.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

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