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PM Bodyguard Chief Given Brief to Stop Protests Outside Hun Sen’s House

File: Hing Bun Hieng, the commander of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's bodyguard unit, stands at the International Airport of Phnom Penh as he accompanies Prime Minister Hun Sen to Singapore for the 32nd ASEAN Summit, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 27, 2018.

The head of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit has been appointed to a team tasked with stopping protests outside of Hun Sen’s mansion in central Phnom Penh.

The decision comes amid a series of planned protests by land rights advocates and communities affected by land grabbing.

Hing Bun Hieng, the head of the bodyguard unit, who was placed on a US sanctions list earlier this year, will coordinate with 22 police commanders and local government officials.

The directive described the motivation of the order as a duty to “prevent provocation from opportunists who take advantage of protesters.”

VOA Khmer could not reach Bun Hieng for comment.

Am Sam Ath, head of investigations at local rights group Licadho, said he was concerned that the majority of the members of the new working group were from the armed forces and police.

“We see it in a sense that firstly, it is for receiving complaints and resolving the disputes as stated [in the statement] to prevent many people protesting. What does this mean? It means that if there's such prevention, the possibility of a crackdown is inevitable. I think that this is not good,” he said.

“If we look at the most of the members of the task group, most of them are generals. So is the aim of the task force to help solve the issue or prevent protests from happening?”

The bodyguard unit has been at the center of allegations of human rights abuses in Cambodia, including numerous assaults on protesters and opposition politicians.