December 11, 2013
A cameraman from the state-run Television Kampuchea (TVK) was assaulted at Freedom Park on Tuesday as he tried to film CNRP leaders at a rally to mark International Human Rights Day, the victim and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.
Seng Chan, 34, said he was slapped about a dozen times and strangled during an altercation with attackers who accused him and the state broadcaster of bias toward Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP.
“A monk pulled my collar and asked me where I was from,” he said. “They said that TVK would only broadcast the bad images and never the good images.”
After trying to explain that the monk had no right to challenge him, Mr. Chan said the monk ordered others to hit him “and then they slapped me on the head multiple times and kept beating me one after the other.”
Mr. Chan said he was also hit by plastic water bottles that were thrown at him, and that his neck sustained bruising from being choked.
Information Minister Mr. Kan-harith responded to the incident on his Facebook page, appealing to reporters to boycott CNRP events in the future.
“I would like to inform that for the sake of our reporters’ safety, the ministry will not send reporters to CNRP events any more, unless there are guarantees from the leader of the party,” the minister said, adding that Mr. Chan was beaten up “like he was a cat or a dog.”
TVK director general Kem Gunawadh said he agreed with Mr. Kanharith.
“I will have to follow the minister’s comment as he said that there has to be a [guarantee of] security,” he said, adding that while TVK reporters had been verbally ha-rassed before, this was the first time one was physically attacked.
CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said he had heard of a scuffle, but did not have details about what happened.
“I have heard about the beating, but I have not seen or heard the full report on the incident,” he said.
“I will look into it and decide what to do.”
The Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon condemning the attack and said journalists’ rights are enshrined in the Constitution.
“It is even more of a shame that this happened on Human Rights Day,” the statement says.
“The leaders of the protest have to make sure that violence is not from their group and make sure there will be no such action in the future,” the CCJ said.