Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bodyguard Unit posts video showing crackdown practice

Bodyguard Unit posts video showing crackdown practice

A screenshot shows a riot-control training exercise conducted by the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit.
A screenshot shows a riot-control training exercise conducted by the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit. Photo supplied

Bodyguard Unit posts video showing crackdown practice

A video posted to Facebook earlier this week shows the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit training to disperse demonstrations with the use of armed personnel and tanks, making it the latest branch of the security services to prepare itself for riot control in a tense political atmosphere.

The training comes amid heated rhetoric from the government and armed forces vowing to crack down on any would-be demonstrators or “extremist elements” protesting the arrest or trial of opposition leader Kem Sokha last month on widely condemned “treason” charges.

The video of the training, uploaded by a Bodyguard Unit member, shows a group of mock protesters holding sticks and bottles charging the bodyguards and chanting “change, change, change” – the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party’s galvanising refrain in the lead-up and aftermath of the disputed 2013 national election.

They suddenly start to back up as bodyguards begin pointing their AK-47s and advancing, with a tank carrying other personnel in tow. The bodyguards then charge at the protesters and break up the mob, even mocking some of them. The training took place at the unit’s headquarters in Kandal’s Takhmao town.

Unit spokesman Ith Thaorath expressed surprise that the video was leaked, but added that the Bodyguard Unit’s training was not meant to alarm people, and was just part of its regular training.

“This is the training to guarantee and protect public order in society and strengthen ourselves. And also to keep the peace that we have today,” he said.

Last month, bodyguard chief Hing Bun Heang said that the unit would be prepared to crack down on any dissent emanating from the arrest of Sokha.

“When there is an issue like a protest or strike to demand something that opposes democracy or breaks the law . . . this force will cooperate with Military Police and National Police to maintain security,” he said at the time.

The Bodyguard Unit has been implicated in controversies in the past. In 2015, three members of the unit were convicted in a brazen daylight attack on two opposition CNRP lawmakers, who were dragged from their cars and brutally beaten just outside the National Assembly following an anti-opposition rally.

The men were not removed from the unit, but were instead promoted upon their release from prison.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • First case of coronavirus reported in the Kingdom

    Cambodia reported its first case of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced. He said medical specialists detected the virus in a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. The minister said Jia Jianhua, 60, travelled from Wuhan city, where the outbreak

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • NBC’s digital payments to go live in next few months

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) will launch a Blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform in the next few months, its director-general Chea Serey told The Post on Monday. Dubbed ‘Project Bakong’, the scheme already has the support of 11 banks, with many more expected

  • Gov’t answers garment buyers’ complaint

    Some of the biggest buyers in the Kingdom’s garment sector have urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to address issues faced by unions and workers – a request a senior official said was out of touch with the situation on the ground. The letter addressed to