About 70 female activists from three communities clashed with police officers yesterday in yet another protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home in Phnom Penh.
Less than a fortnight after returning from the US and Europe with two human rights awards for her struggle against land evictions, Boeung Kak lake representative Tep Vanny was again in the thick of the protest.
“We continue protesting like this because we want justice,” Vanny said.
The protesters, from the Boeung Kak, Borei Keila and Thmarkol communities, marched on the Cambodian People’s Party office on Norodom Boulevard, where they were met by a throng of police.
Demanding the release of imprisoned activist Yorm Bopha, the demarcation of 12.44 hectares of land at Boeung Kak and the issuance of remaining land titles to families in that community, the women marched to Hun Sen’s mansion, near Independence Monument.
There they faced approximately 200 officers, many clutching shields and sticks, who prevented them from getting close to the prime minister’s residence.
“We have an obligation to ensure the safety of the prime minister,” an unnamed police official told the protesters. “We will not allow you to gather in this area.”
Boeung Kak activist Bo Chhorvy claimed a police officer pretended to grope her, before being moved away by an older official.
“Help! Help! The security forces pretended to touch my body,” she said. Her face was later cut open as she confronted officers holding shields.
The group spent four hours outside the prime minister’s house before returning home.
Another group of 87 families, Borei Keila evictees who either remain at the site or who were relocated elsewhere, gathered in the front of the Red Cross’s office, in the capital’s Tuol Kork district, to ask for food and plastic tents to use during the rainy season.
Representative Chhay Kimhorn said they had not received any help from the Red Cross since their eviction on January 3 last year.
District governor Seng Rathanak had promised them he would forward their request to Bun Rany, the national director of the Red Cross and Hun Sen’s wife, she said.