Violent Crackdown During Ban Ki-moon Visit

Oct. 28, 2010. Residents of Boeung Kak and other communities under threat of eviction continued demanding an audience with visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this morning outside the Khmer Soviet Hospital.

At around 10.15am, while the Secretary General, whose organisation in 1948 adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was visiting the hospital, police launched a violent assault on the demonstrators.

Suong Sophorn, a young activist from Boeung Kak, was badly beated and arrested. After having gone missing for some hours, he was eventually located injured in a hospital.

To see live footage from the incident, click here.

To see photos from the previous day’s thwarted demonstration, click here.

LICADHO released the below press release following the incident:

Media Statement

Violent Crackdown of Peaceful Protesters during the Visit of UN

October 28, 2010

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) condemns the authorities’ brutal response to peaceful protesters who demonstrated during the visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The incident took place during a protest in front of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital this morning, October 28, 2010, where a group of fifty protesters gathered to seek intervention by the UN Secretary-General into
the ongoing Boeung Kak land grab in Phnom Penh by Shukaku Company, owned by a ruling party senator.

Around 10:15AM, as the UN Secretary-General was visiting the Hospital with government officials, a mixed group of armed anti-riot police and administrative police officers launched a violent assault on standing protesters, pushing people to the ground, beating some with walkie-talkies and shocking others with electric batons.

During the incident, Suong Sophorn, a land activist who lives in the Boeung Kak Lake area, was arrested and viciously beaten, resulting in a severe wound to the head. The police dragged him away as he fell unconscious and was further beaten by officers. Sophorn is one among the many Cambodians who were protesting the forced eviction of the Boeung Kak Lake community, and was appealing for a meeting with the Secretary-General.

In early June 2009, Sophorn was also detained for three days and found guilty in a show trial of defaming the government after he had sprayed the words “STOP EVICTION” on his house in the Boeung Kak lake area.

“The open beating of peaceful protesters during the visit of the UN Secretary-General is good indicator of how little thought this government gives to its international standing and to human rights,” said Naly Pilorge, director of LICADHO. “Either they don’t understand the harm that this sort of incident causes to Cambodia’s reputation or they don’t care. Or perhaps they just think they can get away with it.”

“While the Cambodian government entertains an empty dialogue on human rights with the UN Secretary General, its armed forces are cracking down on freedom of expression”, said Pung Chhiv Kek, president of LICADHO. “This incident has further exposed the cracking façade of democracy in Cambodia.”

LICADHO calls upon the government to immediately cease the unnecessary use of force against all peaceful protesters, whether during important state visits or during ordinary times.

LICADHO also urges the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to refrain from keeping silent on this incident and publicly condemn this use of force against peaceful protesters who were attempting to gain his attention.

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