Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protesters viciously beat guards

Protesters viciously beat guards

Bloody protest
A district security guard lies incapacitated surrounded by protesters, some attempting to protect him while others continued to beat him, at a opposition aligned demonstration against the ongoing blockade of Freedom Park on Tuesday morning. Koam Chanrasmey

Protesters viciously beat guards

Protesters savagely beat district security guards, at times bashing bloodied men lying incapacitated on the ground, as an opposition-aligned demonstration against the ongoing blockade of freedom park erupted into violence on Tuesday morning.

At least eight district security guards were injured - some severely - while three Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers-elect were taken into custody.

The protest, which formed near the edge of the park at Naga Bridge, kicked off when two groups, one led by Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker elect Mu Sochua, joined forces, then unfurled a banner reading “Free the Freedom Park” and attached it to the razor wire barricade surrounding the park.

Things proceeded peacefully for several minutes before a group of 30 to 40 baton wielding Daun Penh district security guards arrived and began pulling down the banner while forcefully attempting to disperse the demonstration.

Protesters, many wearing yellow ribbons, reacted immediately, rushing toward the guards, engaging them physically and quickly gaining the upper hand.

Police stationed behind the razor wire fired what appeared to be tear-gas canisters, which only briefly halted the scene unfolding outside the barricades.

In the ensuing chaos, Post reporters witnessed numerous guards being isolated and beaten by the crowd. In a moment captured by a Post video journalist, a guard is seen lying unconscious on the ground, before having a rock smashed against his head. When an ambulance arrived, protesters blocked it from reaching the scene and turned it away.

In the aftermath, rights group Adhoc said that eight guards had been injured, with four of them injured seriously. A number are now being attended to in hospital.

"Our NGOs are very sorry about this. Because of the culture of violence, previously security officials beat demonstrators and now the demonstrators beat the security in revenge," Ath Sam Ath, a technical adviser from the rights group Licadho said.

"Now our NGOs are calling for the political parties stop using the people as the tool for protecting their powerful [members]," he added

Sochua, along with fellow CNRP lawmakers elect Kaeo Phirom and Men Sothavarin, were detained by police during the melee and escorted behind the razor-wire barricades. They have since been taken to Phnom Penh municipal police headquarters, Sochua told a Post reporter via phone.

Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said the detaining of Sochua and her fellow lawmakers-elect was simply procedure.

“Generally, after an incident like this, our authorities must detain the leaders of a violent strike to question as procedure,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • Prime Minister: Take back islands from inactive developers

    The government will “take back” land on roughly 30 islands from private companies that have not made progress on planned developments, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that also targeted land-grabbing villagers and idle provincial governors. Speaking at the inauguration of the

  • Land on capital’s riverfront is opened up for investment

    The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing. The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the

  • Royal Group's Koh Rong luxury hotel officially opens

    The Royal Sands Koh Rong hotel on Monday marked its official launch as the first luxury resort on Cambodia’s most visited island. Prime Minister Hun Sen presided over the inauguration of the hotel, which has been open since December, and features rooms priced at