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Peaceful protestors attacked by security forces in Cambodia

Residents of Boeng Kak and other communities gathered outside the Ministry of Justice on 18 March 2013 to call for an end to police violence against peaceful protesters
Residents of Boeng Kak and other communities gathered outside the Ministry of Justice on 18 March 2013 to call for an end to police violence against peaceful protesters

Sahmakum Teang Tnaut/Free Yorm Bopha!

On 14 March 2013, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR") condemned the violence that occurred on the previous morning only 100 meters from the house of Prime Minister Hun Sen and called for an immediate investigation. According to eye witness reports and interviews with the victims, a group of peaceful protestors from the Boeng Kak community were attacked by a range of security forces, leaving six people seriously injured and another six with minor injuries. In addition to roughly 200 police and military police, it is reported that a group of about 100 security guards from a nearby park joined the fray, and that some of these security guards were the ones who reacted most violently. One security guard was heard to shout "arrest him and beat him for me, no one can do anything to me".

Lous Sakorn, husband of imprisoned Boeng Kak resident and human rights defender, Yorm Bopha, was set upon by around ten security guards, who knocked several of his teeth out and beat his left leg until he was unable to walk properly. Nhok Sophat had her arm broken and her elbow dislocated and had to go to hospital. Nget Khun, a lady in her seventies, was knocked unconscious, as was another woman, Khem Chanrasmey. Leng Chin was violently dragged by the strap of his motorbike helmet with the result that he was unable to breathe. Sen Touch suffered injuries to her right leg.

The Boeng Kak residents had initially gone to the Ministry of Justice to demand both the release of Yorm Bopha and a solution to the long-running land dispute between the Boeng Kak community and local development company, Shukaku Inc. Yorm Bopha was convicted on 26 December 2012 for allegedly beating up a tuk tuk driver and sentenced to three years in jail, although the evidence was unsubstantiated, while her prominent role in defending the land rights of the Boeng Kak community had already made her a target of the authorities. With no response from the Ministry of Justice, the residents moved on to the Prime Minister's house, at which point the security forces lost control.

CCHR President Ou Virak commented:

"From the start, Boeng Kak lake has been a story of the struggle of decent, ordinary people trying to protect their human rights in the face of brutal and unrelenting authorities. Today was no different. While such incidents are no longer surprising, one cannot help but be appalled at the violence. The victims are peaceful protestors, advocating for their human rights, not criminals or thugs. What strikes me most though is that the authorities must be afraid of these protestors. It is clear that the authorities panicked [on 13 March], because such violence achieves nothing, it is only counter-productive. It brings yet more shame on Cambodia, when we should all be moving forward together. "

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