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Housing Activists Clash With Police in Street Protest


Villagers from the Boeung Kak lake community shout slogans during a protest rally in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Villagers from the Boeung Kak lake community shout slogans during a protest rally in Phnom Penh, file photo.

PHNOM PENH - At least two women were injured Monday as housing rights activists clashed with police in Phnom Penh.

The activists had been demonstrating by sitting in a major street in front of City Hall to demand land titles in two ongoing land disputes in the capital, those at Boeing Kak lake and the Borei Keila neighborhood.

About 200 riot police eventually dispersed them by force, clearing them from the Monivong Boulevard, a main traffic artery for the city.

Rights groups said one woman, Hek Chan Reaksmey, 33, who was two and a half months pregnant, miscarried following a blow to her abdomen in the clash.

“The authorities used their shields to push us so tightly to the other side of the street, and then they started to beat us,” Hek Chan Reaksmey later told VOA Khmer.

Activists said Monday they would continue to protest, despite continued clashes with police, in an ongoing series of demonstrations that have proven intractable for the government and the city.


The rights group Adhoc on Monday called the police reaction to the protest “illegal and a grave violation of human rights.”

“This is unlawful,” said Ny Chakrya, chief observer for the group. “First, according to the Law on Demonstrations, the authorities have no right to use force against peaceful protesters. Second, when someone uses violence against another, especially leading to a miscarriage, it is a criminal act. Therefore, the government needs to be held accountable.”

City officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
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