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Photographer roughed up

Security guards employed by the Shukaku Inc development company pull down a barrier erected by
residents to block the destruction of their homes in Village 24 in Srah Chak commune, Daun Penh district on Friday. Photo by: Sovan Philong
Police protecting the Boeung Kak development for Shukaku Inc. (Photo: The Phnom Penh Post)
A photographer from The Phnom Penh Post was manhandled and briefly
detained by district police at the Boeung Kak lakeside in Phnom Penh
this morning, as he attempted to photograph the demolition of homes for
a controversial housing project.
Sovan Philong, an award-winning Post
photographer, said he arrived at the lakeside as police and
construction workers began dismantling the dwellings of around 20
families.
As he was taking pictures of the stand-off between
residents and police, Sovan Philong said he was blocked by a group of
uniformed riot police officers and had his camera equipment seized.
“Four or five of them ran to block me – they tried to get the camera from me,” he said.
Sovan
Philong said that even after showing the police his press
identification – issued by the Ministry of Information – the police
treated him “like a robber”, grabbing him by the scruff of the next and
pinning his arms behind his back.
“They didn’t care. They just wanted one thing: to get the camera,” he added.
Police also confiscated camera equipment being used by Sovan Philong’s brother, Hong Menea, 20, an apprentice photographer.
During the confiscation, Sovan Philong sustained a minor injury to his head.
After
the intervention of residents and NGO representatives and other
reporters who were at the scene, the police handed back the two
cameras, but deleted their images of the crackdown.
In a
statement yesterday, the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia condemned the
police actions, calling on the authorities “to ensure that members of
the press are not obstructed while doing their jobs, and that they are
not unjustly accused, harassed or arrested for going about their
professional duties”.
The homes at Boeung Kak lake were being
demolished to make way for the development of a 133-hectare housing and
commercial project by local developer Shukaku Inc, a firm owned by
Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, and China’s Inner
Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co.
Housing rights activists say more than 4,000 families are set to make way for the project.
When
asked on Friday for the name of his superior officer, one municipal
police officer stationed outside Shukaku’s lakeside office said his
boss had “no name and no phone number”.
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment on Friday. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO
Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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