Protesters arrested over clash freed

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Protesters clashed with police last week. DAP News

Preah Sihanouk provincial police have released all six people involved in Thursday’s clash with police during a protest to stop authorities from measuring land in Prey Nob district.

Four of them had been taken into custody immediately after the clash, while two others who were injured were sent to hospital.

Ee Thearin, director of the provincial inter-sector department, yesterday said police released four people on Thursday night.

Police had freed the other two at the scene of the clash because they were injured and needed hospital treatment, he added.

Mr Thearin said police are now looking for those who incited residents to put up tents to live on land belonging to a tycoon and to protest against the Supreme Court verdict which favoured him in a land dispute.

“We will take legal action against the people who incited them,” he said. “We will take action according to the law because the authorities went to measure the land and implement the Supreme Court’s verdict.”

On Thursday, dozens of residents in Bit Traing commune’s Koki village burned tyres and blocked a road when dozens of police officers with guns, shields, heavy machinery and fire trucks went to implement the court decision and measure the land for the tycoon known by the villagers as Siv Kong Triv.

Police used fire trucks to douse the burning tyres but when they attempted to enter the area, people threw stones and bottles filled with petrol at them, sparking the clash.

Police responded by firing shots and detaining the six people, including the two injured.

Van Hon, 37, whose husband Yeam Yorn was one of those arrested, yesterday said that her husband and three others were released on the same night after signing a contract promising to stop protesting.

She said that her family does not have land in the area, but they were staying with a relative on the day of the incident.

Authorities brought guns and heavy machinery. Swift News

Ms Hon said her husband just went to see the protest but was arrested by police.

“My husband is a construction worker, and on that day he just went to see the protest,” she said. “But the clash suddenly happened and when police fired many shots my husband ran from the place.”

“The police shouted to him not to run and arrested him,” she added.

According to Ms Hon, some residents have moved out of the land to a nearby mountain.

Pov Saroth, who was injured in the clash and is in Preah Kossamak hospital, yesterday said he was shot in his back, but his condition is slightly improving although he cannot walk yet.

“I am a construction worker working near that place and on that day I and another worker went to buy food at Otres market,” he said. We saw burning car tyres blocking the road and couldn’t move forward so we stopped to look at the protest.”

“I was shot and the authorities kept me there for more than two hours before my relatives sent me to the hospital,” he added.

Mr Saroth has not yet considered filing a lawsuit in order to find out who shot him as he still lacks money to pay for his medical treatment.

Cheap Sotheary, provincial rights group Adhoc’s coordinator, yesterday said that the families who protested to stop the land measurement did not know about the land dispute or the Supreme Court verdict because they had bought land from third parties.

“I asked the residents and they said they did not know anything about any plaintiff or defendants in a land dispute,” she said. “They said they bought the land from others and some of them have been living there for up to seven years.”

Ms Sotheary also clarified that the Supreme Court verdict did not name tycoon Siv Kong Triv and his wife, Hong Suon as the owners of the land as people had told her previously.

She noted that as of yesterday almost all the houses have been removed from the area.

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