Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - A confronting force on streets

A confronting force on streets

Daun Penh district security guards exhibited excessive force before arresting a man near a Boeung Kak lake activist demonstration at City Hall in Phnom Penh
Daun Penh district security guards exhibited excessive force before arresting a man near a Boeung Kak lake activist demonstration at City Hall in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. HONG MENEA

A confronting force on streets

As protests against land grabbing have increased in Phnom Penh in the past five years, so too have violent crackdowns by the authorities.

Police have been criticised for their treatment of protesters – which has included beatings with electric batons and kicks to the stomach of pregnant women.

But in recent years, activists and NGOs say, private security guards employed by the Daun Penh district have increasingly been the ones inflicting violence on the predominantly female groups of activists.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that in the past three years it had become common for security guards to beat protesters in the presence of – and sometimes with the help of – police.

“In 2009 and 2010, it was the police that used violence,” he said. “When more Boeung Kak and Borei Keila activists protested, police stopped using as much violence.

“They stopped following orders to beat the women. So now the authorities use the Daun Penh district security guards to use violence.”

When the latest incident occurred on Wednesday – less than a week after the government was praised for its treatment of opposition protesters – a Post reporter observed police watching as security guards took batons to protesters.

Separately, in June, when NagaWorld employees went on strike outside the casino, unidentified security guards detained a number of workers and loaded them into a police van, again, in the presence of police.

Borei Keila resident Sar Sorn said she had noticed growing numbers of security guards at land-eviction protests since the lead-up to the election.

“I think the government knows it looks worse if police attack us, so they let security guards beat us when we protest. And the police watch. But they are security guards – they must protect us, not beat us.”

Officials declined to comment when asked why security guards were allowed to take a violent approach to protesters.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, referred all questions to City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche, who could not be reached.

Kirth Chantharith, national police spokesman and Phnom Penh police chief Choun Sovann also could not be reached.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the