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District police stymie mall protest at Hun Sen's house

District police stymie mall protest at Hun Sen's house

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Sovanna Shopping Centre vendors protest near Hun Sen's house in
Takhmao Thursday.

AROUND 200 Sovanna Shopping Centre vendors were threatened by district police and prevented from boarding buses set to take them to Prime Minister Hun Sen's Kandal province residence on Thursday, where they had planned to protest high rents at the mall.

"This morning we rented two buses, but district police came to warn the drivers that if they took us to the prime minister's house they would have a problem," said Thea Neapy, a shoe seller at Sovanna.

"A lot of district police with guns banned us from getting into the bus ... and said we have no right to go to the PM's house."

Thea Neapy accused the police of having been paid off by the market owner, who "knows that if we go to Hun Sen's house he will help us".

Driver Thy Na said police told him not to allow market vendors into his vehicle and told him to "go back home" if he didn't want "problems".

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Sovanna Shopping Centre vendors protest near Hun Sen's house in
Takhmao Thursday.

Yem Dany, a cloth vendor at the market, said she was kicked by police outside the mall as the buses left the scene.

"They have no right to kick me like this. If they are so strong, they should go to Preah Vihear and fight with the Thais instead," she said.

Vendors from the mall, located in Chamkarmon district, managed to meet with representatives of the prime minister after making their way to Takhmao in tuk-tuks and private cars.

Two tuk-tuks full of protesters were stopped and detained by police near Takhmao Bridge, one vendor said, but were released after the police received a phone call from Hun Sen's staff.

They were then invited to speak with Nouv Ra, the prime minister's Cabinet chief, who said he would forward their concerns to City Hall.

"We told him we would like to reduce the price by 30 percent because of the economic crisis," said the vendor, who declined to be named.

"We will close our shops until we get a resolution."

Chesda Metrey, the head of Sovanna Shopping Centre, said the mall had "a lot of problems", and that he would not reduce the rental price for vendors.

"The vendors should already know our policy. We reduce the price by 13 percent for vendors who are under a 10-year lease, and 10 percent for a two-year lease," he said.

Chamkarmon district police Chief Ouch Sokhon declined to comment when contacted Thursday.

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