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Water cannon use decried

Boeung Kak protester
Nget Khun, 73, a Boeung Kak protester speaks out against police brutality at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Shane Worrell/Phnom Penh Post

More than 20 organisations that promote gender equality yesterday condemned the use of water cannons to disperse city protesters on Wednesday by Phnom Penh municipal authorities, describing it as “violence against women”.

In a press conference, Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, said the use of water cannons from three fire engines, which left a woman unconscious, was a serious rights violation.

“It shows clearly that violence against women still occurs,” she said, adding that it also showed authorities’ reluctance to solve the housing problems of the Boeung Kak lake, Borei Keila and Thmor Kol communities.

Thida Khus, executive director of the Cambodian Network Council, said the community would not accept such a response from authorities. “Such acts and the ignorance that comes with them perpetuate problems . . . and push [villagers] further into hopelessness. This leads to more protests,” she said.

Protesters blocked Monivong Boulevard after about 100 people gathered outside the municipal hall demanding Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong keep his promise to resolve their disputes.

Images of the crackdown shared on Facebook have attracted hundreds of comments condemning the authorities.

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