By Sebastian Strangio and Buth Reaksmey Kongkea
A staff photographer for The Phnom Penh Post was briefly detained by private security guards while taking pictures on Diamond Island yesterday, following last week’s deadly stampede on a bridge leading to the island.
“When I arrived there I started taking pictures, the security guard arrived and asked it I had permission from the developer,” said photographer Pha Lina, who went to the island to take photos of local vendors.
He said three guards escorted him back to their office, where he was forced to delete the photos from his camera, while security guards took down his ID card and motorbike licence plate numbers. A copy was also made of his ID card.
“They said ‘you are not allowed’,” Pha Lina said. “And the security guard explained to me that after the stampede, they don’t want people to report about the quiet place here. We want more people to come.”
The claim came after last week’s deadly stampede, which killed 352 people and injured a further 395. In the wake of the disaster there were concerns Diamond Island – a popular place for weddings – would lose business due to local superstitions relating to the tragedy.
Diamond Island project manager Touch Samnang said there was no order from the company to bar journalists from the island, and denied any photojournalist had been detained by the company’s security guards. But he added that those who are taking photos for their “own business purposes”, such as karaoke producers, required permission.
Susi Tan, the project director of the Overseas Cambodia Investment Cooperation, the project’s developer, said security was bolstered on the island due to this week’s meeting of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties. She could not comment on the actions of the guards who allegedly acted in the name of OCIC.