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Police beat women protesters

Police beat women protesters

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Photo by Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Police clash with residents of the Boeung Kak lake area during a land rights protest yesterday in Phnom Penh.

Military and anti-strike police have been accused of injuring six women from Boeung Kak lake yesterday during a 2,000-strong demonstration that turned violent less than 100 metres from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in the capital.

Demonstrators said they were beaten as they tried to push past a police barrier to deliver petitions to the World Bank and the European Union – an incident the Post captured on camera.

Footage shows a green-uniformed military policeman throwing two punches at demonstrator Srey Sophal, 30, who is at first off-screen.

As she struggles and enters the picture, the officer and his colleagues are seen to shove her, at times striking her face.

Srey Sophal, from Village 1 at Boeung Kak, said the military policeman punched her twice in the face and kicked her in the thigh before another officer struck her in the stomach.

Bov Sophea, 36, from Village 23, said anti-strike police kicked her in the leg.

“We were just trying to bring the motion asking for intervention,” she said.

“We want clearly marked border poles to be put on the 12.44 hectares of land the government has promised us – but I was dismissed and beaten like an animal,” she said.

Soung Samay, 53, from Boeung Kak’s Village 22, said military police broke one of her fingers.

“They are very cruel. They hit me – a weak lady, old enough to be their mother,” she said.

The officer filmed attacking Srey Sophal denied the incident and said he had been trying to move demonstrators from Norodom Boulevard because they were blocking traffic.

Other military police officers refused to comment.

Villager representative Heng Mom said Phnom Penh municipal officials had agreed to let them march.

Kiet Chhe, deputy administrative president at city hall, declined to comment about the violence.

Three Borei Keila evictees involved bared their breasts, as police blocked them.

Chan Soveth, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said it showed they were desperate for a resolution.

“If the authorities persist with crackdowns instead of resolutions, this will get dangerous for the government,” he said.

Spokesman for the Council of Ministers Press and Quick Reaction Unit, Ek Tha, said that the incident was for the military police to respond to.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]
Film captured by Chan Yuthsak

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