Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Looting leaves retailers steamed at CPP

Looting leaves retailers steamed at CPP

Looting leaves retailers steamed at CPP

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BLOOD BOILING

After his road-side stall was smashed by pro-CPP demonstrators, a bloodied retailer complains to a UN monitor.

RETAILERS around Olympic Market say they are angry about looting in the wake of a

pro-CPP rally on Sunday and also about the lack of protection by the police.

The market had been closed when the pro-CPP demonstration was held at the Olympic

Stadium.

But problems began in the area when people emerging from the rally were taunted by

bystanders.

According to one shop owner the demonstrators then chased the bystanders into a block

on Sihanouk Boulevard.

Ban Nget, 30, who owns a cigarette store in the block said that she had already emptied

most of her stock from the shop when she saw people going into Olympic Stadium "armed

with wooden sticks" - a precaution that was followed by about 90% of retailers

in the area.

She said that when the demonstrators failed to find the people who had taunted them

they turned to looting.

"They broke this case and took some cigarettes with them," she said pointing

to a smashed glass storage cabinet.

Nget's husband said that they attacked items they could not steal.

"After they took cigarettes, they tried to take my motorbike but they could

not because it was locked so they just badly damaged my motorbike," Nget's husband

said.

Nget said she was outraged when she was told by her friends that the government-run

television, TVK, aired the footage of destruction of her property and said that this

destruction was done by Sam Rainsy's demonstrators.

"They just put all the blame on Sam Rainsy, because Sam Rainsy has no means

of response," she said angrily.

"Sam Rainsy has held demonstrations for many days but not even a single condom

has been reported to be looted," joked a man standing next to her.

At the same time as shops in Nget's block were being attacked, another group of demonstrators

entered Chun Heng Thmei restaurant on the corner of Sihanouk Boulevard and Street

105, smashing the kitchen equipment and taking cans of drinks.

The restaurant owner, who asked not to be named said that he would not report the

incident to the authorities.

"I don't know how much the damage was worth because I am not going to claim

for reparation," he said.

"Police did not take any serious action to stop these people from destroying

my property, police just stood and watched them because they are pro-Samdech Second

Prime Minister."

One electronics shop owner on Sihanouk Boulevard said he closed his business every

time there was a demonstration as a precaution, no matter which side of the political

coin it came from.

However he said he was never too worried by the Sam Rainsy-led demonstrations because

"the demonstrators did not carry wooden sticks or stones with them".

He said his greatest worry was that "the pro- CPP demonstrators are protected

by police and military police, so when they loot our property, we don't know who

we will complain to."

However, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak dismissed claims that there

had been any looting, saying that there had only been some property damaged when

demonstrators chased people who disturbed their rally.

"So far we have not received any complaints from the people whose property was

destroyed during Sunday's demonstration," he said.

Nor did he believe the police stood by while pro-CPP demonstrators ran amuck.

"It is not right if police did not take action to stop demonstrators from destroying

people's property," he said.

And he added that many of Sunday's pro-CPP demonstrators believed the event was the

only time they had to vent their feelings and that they were angry when they were

taunted.

He said the mob "chased the people who disturbed their demonstration and at

the time of chasing, it affected the property of the people".

He said police tried to stop them but they had been busy for the past week and were

now tired so they could not contain all of the "angry mob."

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