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Scuffles in latest round of ‘Black Monday’ protests

Activists wearing white shirts protest in the north of Phnom Penh yesterday morning for the release of detained Adhoc staff and an NEC official.
Activists wearing white shirts protest in the north of Phnom Penh yesterday morning for the release of detained Adhoc staff and an NEC official. Pha Lina

Scuffles in latest round of ‘Black Monday’ protests

Nine weeks into the civil society-backed “Black Monday” demonstrations, four participants from the Boeung Kak community received minor injuries yesterday as they scuffled with Daun Penh district security guards who were preventing them from protesting the arrest of current and former human rights activists.

A group of 50 Boeung Kak activists had gathered in their community at 9am to display banners and a black bamboo cage containing a person dressed in white – a symbolic stand-in for the jailed foursome – but was prevented from continuing the protest by about 20 security guards.

As the guards attempted to take away the posters and cage, a brawl ensued in which Bov Sorphea, Song Sreyleap, Bo Chorvy, and Kong Chantha sustained minor injuries.

“What we want is peace and social justice, so why are they [security forces] trying to do this to us? What they did was intentionally violent, so we cannot accept that,” said Bov Sorphea, who said she had a broken finger and a bruise under her right eye.

Kem Vutha, director of Daun Penh district’s security force, declined to comment on the incident, and City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada and Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng could not be reached.

At about the same time as the Daun Penh protest, another group of some 20 former Boeung Kak land activists, wearing white attire, attempted to submit a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen seeking his intervention in the controversial cases, but were stopped by Por Sen Chey district authorities.

“We changed to white shirts to show Samdech [Hun Sen] that our intention is not for a colour revolution, but that we ask for the release of the human rights and NEC officials,” said activist Im Sreytouch.

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