Cambodian Journalist Brutally Attacked at Rally

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ) in condemning the brutal attack on journalist Lay Samean. Samean was beaten with batons by Daun Penh district security guards at the first of the Council Election Campaign Rallies on May 2 in Phnom Pehn.Lay Samean was at the rally alongside other Voice of Democracy reporters to cover the event at Freedom Park in Daun Penh, Phnom Penh.  According to Samean, he was set upon by the Daun Penh security guards after he filmed them attacking a monk. In the attack, which involved batons, Lay lost consciousness and suffered a broken cheekbone as well as other injuries.According to the Phnom Penh Post, the Daun Penh district security force has been deployed in large numbers in the days leading up to the rally to implement a newly reinforced ban on public assembly in Phnom Penh. Following the attack, the Ministry of Information released a press statement condemning the attacks on journalists, stating “[The ministry] considers those attacks a serious violation of press freedom in the Kingdom of Cambodia.” They went on to condemn the security forces for “threatening, intimidating seizing material and insulting” journalists.Voice of Democracy media director Nop Vy called the ministry statement “nothing more than rhetoric.”Vy said: “I think that if the government really had a strong will to prevent the violence against journalists [it would take] real measures to bring those security forces and authorities to the court.”CAPJ President Um Sarin said: “We urge authorities to stop fighting journalists. Authorities should support journalists in fulfilling their important duties and bring perpetrators of this vicious attack to justice.”“Journalists must be able to continue their courageous work in disseminating news and information; we call on all Cambodians to support and respect the rule of law.”This attack comes just a day after reports of 3 journalists being attacked by the Daun Penh Security Guards at May Day rallies in Freedom Park, in Daun Penh.According to the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia: “These guards indiscriminately beat people who were documenting the situation; this includes journalists, human rights workers and participants.”The IFJ said: “Cambodia is fast becoming one of Asia’s most dangerous places for journalists. Only last week the body of missing journalist Dave Walker was found at the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap after he vanished under highly suspicious circumstances in February.”

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