Prime Minister Hun Sen warned yesterday that people who instigate and commit acts of violence will face the full force of the law.
In characteristically cryptic language, he told thousands of students on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich that his government would not tolerate violence.
“Those who provoked violence and committed acts of violence should not be tolerated [and should be punished] according to the law,” he said. “All the points I am talking about are to ensure Cambodia has peace, not just for a short time.”
The comments were almost certainly a reference to the arrests of 11 opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party members after a July 15 demonstration in which protesters turned on irregular security forces, injuring several.
A report published by the Ministry of Interior in March estimated that about $100 million in property damage was caused by workers’ strikes and protests since the election.
Am Sam Ath, senior investigator at rights group Licadho, said he welcomed Hun Sen’s comments if they also applied to military police and paratroopers who attacked striking workers early this year.
At least five people were killed on January 3 when military police opened fire on striking workers in the capital. A day later, mixed security forces violently dismantled an opposition-run protest camp.
“If we implement the law, we can root out the culture of impunity and culture of violence,” Sam Ath said.