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Answers sought for gov’t use of force

Oum Sophy, from Lor Peang village in Kampong Chhang province cries during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday as she recounts events with authorities.
Oum Sophy, from Lor Peang village in Kampong Chhang province cries during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday as she recounts events with authorities. Hong Menea

Answers sought for gov’t use of force

Families of protesters shot dead by security forces on Veng Sreng Boulevard in 2014 yesterday joined with other alleged victims of government violence in calling for justice in their cases.

Villagers from Kampong Chhnang’s Lor Peang commune, site of a violent eviction, also took part in a Phnom Penh press conference where they presented a petition calling for an end to impunity for their alleged attackers. The wife of murdered environmental activist Chut Wutty is also affiliated with the group, although she wasn’t present yesterday.

The petition was reportedly sent to the Ministry of Justice, the National Assembly, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Lor Peang villager Om Sophy said she and others were beaten while protesting government confiscation of their land in 2014. “Police with shields and electrical batons hit us; we got injured. It is unjust for us that no perpetrator has been arrested,” Sophy said.

Keo Sokmeng, whose son was killed at the Veng Sreng garment worker protest, also spoke. “Police shot our children,” Sokmeng said, later claiming the current administration was “crueller than Pol Pot”.

Ministry of Justice spokesman, Chin Malin, said police are still investigating the deaths at Veng Sreng and that villagers might not understand legal procedure. “We need concrete evidence, and sometimes the case is very complicated,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think this appeal will produce a different outcome,” said rights consultant Billy Tai, explaining the government has labelled the victims “subversives”.

Additional Reporting by Andrew Nachemson

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