Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Updated: Authorities deny six killed in Kratie clash between protesters, soldiers

Updated: Authorities deny six killed in Kratie clash between protesters, soldiers

A screenshot from a video showing clashes between security forces and villagers at a rubber plantation in Kratie province. Supplied
A screenshot from a video showing clashes between security forces and villagers at a rubber plantation in Kratie province. Supplied

Updated: Authorities deny six killed in Kratie clash between protesters, soldiers

Read the latest version of this story here.

Hours after video emerged appearing to show security officers in Kratie opening fire on a crowd of protesting villagers today, with a rights official reporting six killed, authorities are denying any deaths resulted from the clash, even as villagers at the scene continued to insist that at least two people were shot dead.

A video from the skirmish, posted to social media, shows villagers armed with machetes and sticks arguing with authorities, with soldiers seen with rifles slung over their shoulders. The video then cuts to a long shot of the villagers as gunshots ring out in the distance. At least thirty shots can be heard, and villagers can be seen scrambling away from the area. A separate short video shows a man shot in the inner thigh being tended to by villagers.

Following the clash, a coordinator with the rights group Adhoc, relying on reports from the scene, said that six of the protesters had been shot to death.

However, Kratie Governor Sar Chamrong this evening insisted that there had been no deaths reported, and that only two people were injured – a man and woman – and that another villager had been arrested, which had sparked the conflict.

“Authorities arrested one person and then the villagers got angry. We negotiated with them but the villagers were with the homemade guns, and the villagers were very nasty. I am now making a report to [Interior Minister] Sar Kheng.”

The protest began when military police and soldiers burned down huts belonging to the villagers, angering the villagers who then proceeded to block the road. The huts were on land at the centre of a long-running dispute between the Memot Rubber Plantation Company and residents who moved into the area around the same time that the land was granted to the company.

Governor Chamrong’s account was backed up by National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith, who also maintained that there were no deaths and that two people received minor injuries.

However, Tin Pheak, a villager present at the clash, said she saw a woman and man shot dead by the authorities, and had helped move the bodies away from the road. She added that she herself was hit in the face by a police official’s gun.

“I left the body to the call people to help, and then when we came back the police already put the body in a car,” she said.

Another villager at the clash, who requested anonymity, said he saw a man fall over after being shot in the chest.

Reached later, Adhoc coordinator Be Vanny, who initially reported the deaths, said that he was simply passing on information he had received, adding that he was “wanted” by police.

Soueng Sen Karuna, land rights coordinator at Adhoc, said that he had been contacted by a Kratie Provincial Court official demanding the rights group retract its previous statement, saying the initial report was wrong and warning that “if not, you’ll have a problem”.

A doctor who answered the phone at the district referral hospital, meanwhile, declined to comment, before then saying there were no deaths. When pressed, he declined to comment further, saying it was “very difficult” to talk about the matter.

Keang Hong, the director of the provincial hospital, when asked if there were any casualties, declined to engage with the question.

See the videos posted to Facebook here:

Updates to follow.

This version updates to include information from authorities calling the death toll into question.

MOST VIEWED

  • Gov’t not using EU aid for poor

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday refuted as “baseless”, claims that the government had used financial aid from the EU to implement the programme to identify and support poor and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic. The prime minister was responding to Roth Sothy, a

  • Thai fence said to prevent illegal crossing

    Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provincial police say Thailand is not invading Cambodia after a series of social media posts about fences being built on the border raised alarms. Banteay Meanchey police chief Ath Khem said on Tuesday the information on social media on Sunday and

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • ‘Single Portal’ integrated registration system welcomes nearly 50 firms

    Forty-seven companies have successfully registered via a newly-launched information technology e-business registration platform as of the end of the second week of this month, Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Phan Phalla said. Six ministries and state-run institutions have been integrated into a