Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Peaceful marchers beaten

Peaceful marchers beaten

Authorities seize a person’s cart yesterday in Kampong Chhnang after villagers tried to march to Phnom Penh
Authorities seize a person’s cart yesterday in Kampong Chhnang after villagers tried to march to Phnom Penh to raise concerns over a land row with KDC International. Heng Chivoan

Peaceful marchers beaten

Villagers from Kampong Chhnang were met yesterday with brutal violence and arrests as they embarked on an arduous journey to the capital to seek a resolution to their long-running land dispute with politically connected KDC International.

Nearly 100 residents of Ta Ches commune’s Lorpeang village set off in the morning on a 60-kilometre march to Phnom Penh to seek Prime Minister Hun Sen’s intervention in their dispute with KDC, a company owned by the wife of Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem.

At 11:30am, 5 kilometres into the journey, they were met by more than 100 police and military police, whom a Post reporter witnessed block the road and then rush to attack the marchers – children and elderly among them – with batons.

Three women fainted as authorities tied their hands behind their backs and carried them across the road. One man was left with serious injuries to his left hand. Carts full of rice and cooking pots were destroyed.

The exact whereabouts of villagers arrested in the violence – Srun Tha, elderly resident Kuch Hok and Snuon Nhoeun, the husband of community representative Om Sophy – remained unclear yesterday. The others returned home to call for their release.

“It is damn cruel,” said Sophy, covered in blood and cradling a baby in her arms.

“They do not think of the effect on small children,” she said.

Another villager, Tep Ny, cried out in desperation: “Shoot all of us. We have nothing. If we protest for our land, we are imprisoned,” Ny said. “Why do they mistreat the old? What are we doing wrong?”

Standing on the blood-stained ground, Hul Veasna, Kampong Tralach district police chief, said there had been no attack.

“We just blocked them,” he said, adding that police intervened because villagers were creating a disturbance.

He said he did not know if there were arrest warrants for any of those detained.

After calling for their fellow demonstrators’ release, the community members made their way to a Phnom Penh pagoda, albeit not by marching.

KDC representative Thai Hy, Kampong Chhnang provincial police chief Prak Vuthy and Provincial Governor Chhouk Chandoeun could not be reached.

In a statement yesterday, rights group Licadho said “this decade-long land conflict won’t go away by violently beating up the community and arresting a few more villagers”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • 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 “

  • 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

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • 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