Armed Man at Rally Confirmed as Hun Sen Bodyguard

By Mech Dara and Alex Willemyns
October 16, 2013
The Cambodia Daily

Poeurng Choeurn, left, attends a party on June 6 alongside Prime Minister Hun Sen's son, Hun Manet, second-left, in this photo posted online. Meanchey district governor Kuch Chamroeun, back left, who also serves as an adviser to Mr. Hun Sen, said Tuesday that the photograph was taken at a gathering of former students of Chbar Ampov High School but said that he did not recognize Mr. Choeurn.

Poeurng Choeurn, left, attends a party on June 6 alongside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son, Hun Manet, second-left, in this photo posted online. Meanchey district governor Kuch Chamroeun, back left, who also serves as an adviser to Mr. Hun Sen, said Tuesday that the photograph was taken at a gathering of former students of Chbar Ampov High School but said that he did not recognize Mr. Choeurn.

A man seized by participants at a teacher’s rally on Sunday after he was seen carrying a pistol was on Tuesday confirmed to be a member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Personal Bodyguard Unit (PMBU), while photographs discovered online raised questions of the man’s role within the secretive military unit, and his motives at the opposition-aligned demonstration.

Poeurng Choeurn, 38, was photographing a group of monks at a small rally organized by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park when he was confronted by CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua over a K-54 pistol he had concealed under his shirt.

Rally-goers set upon Mr. Choeurn, disarming him and dragging him across the park, before military police collected him and took him behind their police line. Mr. Choeurn was treated for minor injuries at Calmette Hospital, where he listed his occupation in a patient registration book as “Samdech Bodyguard” before departing.

Touch Naroth, chief of the bodyguard unit at the Ministry of Interior, on Tuesday confirmed Mr. Choeurn’s employment in the prime minister’s personal armed force.

“He works at Samdech Techo’s bodyguard unit,” General Naroth said, using the “Techo” honorific used exclusively for Mr. Hun Sen. “Don’t ask me [about him], he does not work at my unit.”

PMBU Commander General Hing Bun Heang declined to comment on Mr. Choeurn and instead directed a reporter to speak to the person who had confirmed his position: “Whoever said he is a bodyguard, go ask him.”

Conflicting accounts of Mr. Choeurn’s identity emerged following the brief scene of chaos at Freedom Park on Sunday. Along with the gun, he was also carrying a press pass identifying him as a reporter for the news agency of the Municipal Information Department (MID), the Phnom Penh arm of the Ministry of Information.

Khuth Samkhann, the director of the MID, confirmed that he worked for the agency and said that did not know why he was carrying a pistol at the event.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith also said that his ministry sends photographers to document rallies, but denied that they were ever armed. He later suggested that Mr. Choeurn might be “temporary staff.”

Mr. Samkhann said Tuesday that while the MID did not work for Mr. Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, Mr. Choeurn was free to work wherever else he wanted.

“He can work in any institution so long as he produces news for our department,” Mr. Samkhann said, adding that it did not matter if his staff member was armed.

“I do not care about his pistol, I just know that he covered the news for me.”

Photographs discovered Tuesday on social media profiles attributed to Mr. Choeurn and his friends, however, added to the mystery about his real line of work.

The photographs show him variously standing alongside Hun Manet—Mr. Hun Sen’s eldest son—members of the military and Prime Minister’s bodyguards and, in one case, with his arm around former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr. Shinawatra, who is wanted in Thailand, has been offered safe-passage and sanctuary in Cambodia by Mr. Hun Sen for a number of years.

One photo shows Mr. Choeurn wearing his press identification card in September, while another taken in July shows him wearing an ID card reading “Bodyguard Department.”

Another album of photographs placed online by Mr. Choeurn contains a seemingly endless collection of images of participants at opposition CNRP events. That album includes photographs of monks and journalists at demonstrations, as well as what appears to be three covertly taken photographs of opposition youth activist Thy Sovantha, who runs the 200,000-follower strong, CNRP-aligned “I Love Cambodia Hot News” Facebook page.

© 2013, The Cambodia Daily. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.


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21 Responses to "Armed Man at Rally Confirmed as Hun Sen Bodyguard"

  1. Chourn says:

    A secret spy in teacher’s rally on last sunday has fianally identified as a bordygaurd of PM Hun Sen!!!! why? he has a strong skill of spy why protesters could identify or recognize him?

  2. Neang Yun says:

    This man should be charged with possession of a firearm while working as a photographer.
    He should only has his gun when working as bodyguard. This is once again an abuse of the law.
    What sort of intention of having a gun within teacher’s demonstration?
    This is showing the lack of responsibility of ministry of interior.

    Why khmer authority is so keen to only harm own people?

  3. Leavpor says:

    Sam Dech Hun Sen always assign his bodyguards to do like this if he want to assassinate anybody. Because they always work well. for instance 1997 grenades attached in front of old parliamentary, Mrs. Pisith Pilika, and so on.

    His bodyguards are very skillful in killing people.

  4. Country student says:

    Oh ho! There is no secret in this world; it’s only a matter of time. Keep searching, you will find more criminal acts of them. This clearly shows that terrorist and assassinate attacks has been committing by hun sen, his sons, body guards and other subordinate. Don’t let it go, collect more proofing evidents, make a case bring it to court. We know, hun sen court will not find justice, but after that bring to ICC. The secret killing will go on never end that raise concern to ICC.

  5. Leavpor says:

    You are right, Country student.

  6. កម្មពារជិតធ្លាក់មកដល់ហ៊ុន សែន ហើយ!!!!

  7. K says:

    Hell start to open the door for them.

  8. បរិមី ព្រ:វិហារ says:

    It is very common for all governments and countries around the world to have spies and Cambodia is not an isolated case. The United States, Russia,China, UK and others all of them are having spies and spying on anything they concerned about. It doesn’t necessary means that sending spies to provide security or getting information from other sides is a terrist act. It is very common understanding to know that people and in particular parties are spied each others. It’s very surprised me is that they are teachers who many people believed that they have reasonable sense and qualification to provide good justice, but why they used forces and wounded this spy? Why they did not contest for the facts and not using forces. We worried when this group of people getting power will misused their power and decision, thus they will be mistreated people and then justice will be reached in very very long distant future.

  9. Country student says:

    To បរិមី ព្រ:វិហារ

    Ha… ha… not even a good liar and denial!! You, CPP is confessing of truly sending a GUN MAN TO ASSASSINATE innocent people in the protest. Teachers have no choice, but have to stop the killing. The law and modern society reward such act, to stop the criminal act before he can kill, to save innocent lives and self-defend as well.
    Anyone can get involve; don’t have to be authority when seeing someone breaking the law.

    Send spy with weapon to collect information or send gun man to assassinate people??

    I wouldn’t worry about CNRP who currently don’t have the history all kind of abusing, but do worry and do want to change the poppet and dictatorship that obviously has the 35 years history of all kinds of abusive and criminal records.

    Again, do you know that the world and Cambodian keep an eye on you and always keep your criminal records for the judgment day?

  10. Anonymous says:

    How bad of CPP done and doing to do.

  11. ហ៊ុន សែន says:

    The job of CPP is to silence the opposition and to protect the crook such as my friend Chouk Bandit. Hun Sen and his group are behind most of the killing in Cambodia. Walks like a dog, barks like a dog and acts like a dog, it must be a dog.

  12. Reak says:

    It is time that the sky and land not quiet. Not just a small group of people voice them self out to the public for justice, but more than half of the country population, even though calmly but wish to see the change too.

    We all need the change !!!

    Mr. October 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm you are right, this spy is just one of the form that current government party does for such a long time ago. But this time even the god won’t help him, the flood is one form of the god s’ punishment to current government.

    What a more sad will come next if the change was not allowed to balance current governments’ power. The God and people won’t stay quiet and silent.

  13. បរិមី ព្រ:វិហារ says:

    Country student! I note some of your comments are sound and let justice finds it out. I wish to share with you regarding changes, you should consider the outside world is only one of the factors but the real driven factor is for our people and nation. We do not want to make changes because of scaring outsiders, we should make changes to meet the needs of our people and nation, of cause we have to share our common interest with all countries around the world. We can see our different spylosophies and ideologies, let this difference for better future of Cambodia, but not become haters for the people and nation. we wish to live in a peaceful society and nation, thus we can build our future in a prosperious way. I strongly believe that we need a collective efforts to manage our future, unfortunately we never live in the perfect world, thus we have to manage our future base on democratic principle as majority taking course.

  14. 18 Mina says:

    មុខពួកលួចជាតិម្នាក់ៗខ្លាញ់អោយរងើម។

  15. mission impossible says:

    even, HS body guard, proof showed, they had no rights to beat the man,
    where was the human rights activist ??- when this happened ???
    ——–
    they have no rights to beat the man, even he has the gun,
    the victim needs to sue the man who beaten him + prosecutes & bring them to face justice
    ——–

  16. Real Khmerologist says:

    Baramey Ah Bamplanh Cheat/ Khmer Family or Ah Chamreun Ach, What the hell are you talking about ? Are you trying to teach the educated people with your shattered English vocabulary ? It is shameful Ah Cheat !

  17. Real Khmerologist says:

    Prevention is always better than cure. No one should hold two different jobs at the same time. A news reporter in possession of a fire arm is illegal and unacceptable. This is how a dictator is using his bull dog unit to terrorize and surpress the innocent people.

  18. Real Khmerologist says:

    The end of a dictatorial and most oppressive government is coming closer.

  19. ម៉ែនសូក says:

    សំណាងល្អហើយដែលពូៗលោកគ្រូបង្រៀនទុកខោស្ល៊ីបឱ្យ ហាស់ ហាស់ ហាស់
    បើដឹងថាជាអង្គរក្សរនុកក្នុងថោកទាបចឹង ខ្ញុំសើចតាំងពីថ្ងៃវារយះខោរយះអាវបាត់ទៅហើយ
    ហាស់ ហាស់ ហាស់ ហាស់ ហា ។

  20. khr says:

    This guy could’ve caused alots of damages at the rally,luckily he was stopped by these protesters before it happened.

  21. បរិមី ព្រ:វិហារ says:

    I take note that our colleagues who make comments here to support opposition, they seem very happy when they have a chance to beat someone. This reflected to the facts that if they had power to lead this nation they may enjoy beating and abusing people who are act as their opposition.