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

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement