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District guards back on beat

Clashes broke out yesterday between Daun Penh security guards and protesters
Clashes broke out between Daun Penh security guards and protesters from the Boeung Kak and Borei Keila communities. Hong Menea

District guards back on beat

Daun Penh security guards were back on their City Hall beat yesterday – and back to using violence against protesters.

Guards used stun guns and batons in a confrontation with land-rights protesters outside the Monivong Boulevard offices, leaving two women, both from the Borei Keila community, unconscious.

The violence came less than two weeks after guards were themselves beaten during an opposition demonstration. That incident led to the arrests of opposition lawmakers, who were released last Tuesday when the political deadlock over last year’s national election was resolved.

Ee Sarom from NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, said yesterday that it was disappointing to see that despite the resolution state violence, which became a hallmark of the deadlock was continuing.

“They’re still using violence against civilians,” he said. “None of this helps these communities find a resolution to their problems.”

Protesters from Boeung Kak and Borei Keila gathered in the morning to demand City Hall honour its promises to resolve the years-long disputes.

Tensions flared, however, when Boeung Kak activist Chan Vuthisak, one of 23 people arrested and tried during the protests in early January, taunted security guards.

Protesters try to revive a woman who was knocked unconscious during a clash with district security guards
Protesters try to revive a woman who was knocked unconscious during a clash with district security guards. Hong Menea

A clash broke out after guards attempted to detain him among the crowd.

Violent and unpunished crackdowns by the guards have become more frequent since men matching their description dismantled an opposition protest camp in Freedom Park on January 4.

As has been the case before, the district security guards yesterday were accompanied by police who were not involved in the clash. Some of the guards were dressed in their usual navy blue outfits and helmets.

Others that Post reporters have seen in that attire before – including one man with a stun gun – were wearing beige and camouflaged clothing.

The women knocked unconscious, Prak Sipha, 45 and Khem Srey, 33, said upon waking that their bodies felt “numb”. They were taken to an NGO’s clinic.

Following the clash, City Hall invited 10 representatives from the communities in for talks.

Chhay Kemhorn, from Borei Keila, said officials had told her that they had delayed a resolution for villagers because of the violence on July 15.

“We are so disappointed . . .
That dispute had nothing to do with us,” she said, adding officials had made a fresh offer to set up a “public forum” about their grievances on August 12. City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said he had received “no information” about yesterday’s clash.

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