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Military Police Assault Protestors in Land Dispute

Dozens of military policemen in Koh Kong province beat and arrested protesters seeking a redress in land-grab case, a rights worker and protesters said Tuesday.

At least 75 families have accused two businessmen of taking land, destroying crops and building houses in Chhuk village of Sre Ambel district, and villagers have torn down the two men’s houses in the dispute, a rights worker said.

Military police “came to arrest us and then violence ensued, resulting in injuries to some protesters, the loss of jewelry and the arrest of one protester,” one witness told VOA Khmer by phone Tuesday.

The villagers were on their way to Phnom Penh to appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen for help, the witness said.

“The violence is a serious violation of human rights,” said In Kong Chet, an investigator with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Sam Samean, the military police commander for nearby Kompong Sila district, denied the assault accusations.

“We followed the law without opposition, and we did not beat or torture anyone, but there was a confrontation,” he said.

Villagers have said 159 hectares are at stake in the land dispute, which has been ongoing since 2006, despite complaints to the prime minister, the Ministry of Interior and the National Assembly.