Bov Sreyros (in white hat) is kicked by a police officer during a protest outside the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh in June. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post
Unethical and insulting to women was how Boeung Kak victim Bov Srey Sras yesterday described a municipal deputy police chief’s comments about her miscarriage.
The 25-year-old, who lost her unborn child after a police officer allegedly kicked her in the stomach outside the Boeung Kak 13’s appeal trial on June 27, said she felt sickened by comments deputy municipal police chief Phoung Malay made on Tuesday after she announced she was suing him.
“For me, what Phoung Malay said is an insult to all Boeung Kak women,” she said yesterday. “And it is unethical behaviour that is insulting to women nationwide.”
In response to Srey Sras filing a complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Malay, Daun Penh deputy governor Sok Penhvuth and an unknown officer who kicked her, Malay told the Post he did not know what kind of compensation she was seeking.
“Is the victim old or young, and does she sue me to return her kid?” he said on Tuesday. “I want to tell her that if she wants to get back her kid, I am also young.”
The comments infuriated the Boeung Kak community, which yesterday demanded an apology.
“I really suffered when I lost my baby. But I didn’t sue him to return my child – I asked him to accept guilt and to bring the perpetrator to court,” she said, adding that Malay and Penhvuth were accountable for the actions of the officer who kicked her.
Police armed with shields and batons clashed with supporters of the Boeung Kak 13 on Sisowath Quay on June 27 as they tried to march towards the Court of Appeal to attend the women’s appeal verdict announcement.
Malay could not be reached for comment yesterday, but other police officers – who insisted the Post not name them – said Malay’s comments had been misunderstood.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said municipal police chief Touch Naroth’s commitment on Tuesday to urge his police not to use violence against peaceful protesters would be tested by how much he was willing to prosecute police who disobeyed.
“The fact that police enjoy impunity to violate rights of protesters is clearly seen in the outrageous and arrogant comments of the chief’s deputy – where he acts as if he is the aggrieved one while she is the one who lost her baby.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHANE WORRELL