Violent scenes in a rice paddy

Text by May Tithara, The Phnom Penh Post

One villager was shot and a policeman beaten unconscious as violent clashes broke out during an attempted land eviction in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district June 2011.

At least 11 people, including four policemen, were injured as about 250-armed residents of Damnak Raing and Phnom Touch communes squared off with a 300-strong force of police and military police in Stock Slat village.

Authorities were attempting to enforce a 2009 Supreme Court order that awarded a 65-hectare plot of land, occupied by the villagers, to Meng Keth Company – owned by Taiwanese businessman Kuo Sheng.

Concerned residents stayed up all night to prepare for the eviction, transporting beds and entire houses to block National Road 51 at 3am to block the authorities’ path.

At about 11am the next day, however, a large group of police entered the area.

As villagers fought back, armed with sticks, two women were hurt by electric batons.

One policeman was seized by a mob, before being held by villagers and beaten over the head.

His captors discussed whether to kill the officer but he was released 15 minutes later after rights groups intervened.

Khim Samon, Oudong district police chief, said late last night that three police officers and one military police officer had been hurt.

Following the battle, residents expressed anger that they had been shot at by fellow Cambodians.

Local children were also supporting the fight. Sarin Rithy, 13, used a slingshot to exchange fire against the authorities and said he was not afraid of soldiers’ guns.