Cambodian would-be teacher files complaint after attack

A Cambodian man who was expelled from a state-run school because he was too short has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Interior over the beating he received from security guards during a protest earlier this week.
Keo Sovannrith, 20, was demonstrating alone at the Ministry of Education on Monday when local authorities in civilian uniforms pulled him into a car and beat him.
He told Radio Free Asia that he tried to file a complaint with local police in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Wednesday, but they refused to accept it. The same security guards who roughed him up earlier this week then took his phone, he said.
He filed the complaint with the Interior Ministry on Thursday. He said he will follow up with ministry officials after the annual Pchum Ben festival, which ends on Monday.
“I urged the ministry to speed up a solution on the matter,” he told RFA. “It seems the district guards have more power than police and other authorities.”
Keo Sovannrith was admitted to the National Institute of Physical Education last November despite standing 162 centimeters (5 foot 4 inches) tall, under the 165 centimeter (5 foot 5 inch) minimum requirement for applicants.
He was removed from enrollment with no explanation in December, along with 11 other prospective students.
In July and August, Keo Sovannrith and several others protested several times in front of the ministry to demand readmission to the teacher training program. They said the institute’s enrollment requirements were too opaque and randomly applied.
Police surrounded and beat them on Aug. 21. Video of the incident was widely viewed on Facebook.
Soeung Sengkaruna, a spokesman for the rights group Adhoc, said that the Daun Penh security guards aren’t police officers and don’t have the authority to confiscate people’s belongings.
“Only the judicial police with the court’s order can arrest people,” he said. “The ministry should look into the issue to avoid any criticism from people and the international community who are watching over the law enforcement of Cambodia.”
Translated by Yun Samean. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.


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