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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Demo had green light

Demo had green light

PERMISSION for the Mar 30 demonstration by the KNP had been given by the Phnom Penh

Municipality and the Ministry of Interior.

While Hun Sen has suggested that the protest was illegal, documents show both CPP

and Funcinpec officials approved it.

KNP applied to the municipality Mar 26 for approval to hold a march from the party's

headquarters to the National Assembly, to hold a "peaceful demonstration"

urging reforms to the judicial system.

In a Mar 29 reply, Phnom Penh chief of cabinet Mann Chhoeun (Funcinpec) wrote that

the municipality "authorizes KNP to organize" a demonstration between 7-9am

on March 30.

KNP proceeded with the demonstration after receiving the letter, which was not counter-signed

by any CPP official.

However, other documents which did not surface until after the demonstration and

grenade attack show that both the co-Ministers of Interior also granted permission.

In a Mar 27 letter to Ministers Sar Kheng and You Hockry, Phnom Penh first vice-governor

Chea Sophara (CPP) notified them of KNP's request for a demonstration.

Sophara - who is widely considered a close ally of Hun Sen's - noted that KNP was

"not recognized by the government" and that the party had previously held

unauthorized demonstrations.

However, he specifically recommended that the Mar 30 demonstration should be allowed,

writing: "The Municipality of Phnom Penh, in this case, realizes that it should

be permitted".

In a Mar 29 reply, Sar Kheng (CPP) and You Hockry (Funcinpec) wrote that the demonstration

"can be authorized".

The only condition that they placed on KNP - a condition also asked for by Mann Chhoeun

and Chea Sophara - was that the march not go near the "national sacred place"

of the Independence Monument. The monument is also, coincidentally, across the road

from Hun Sen's residence.

Hun Sen, speaking on the afternoon of Mar 30, urged the National Police to pursue

the grenade throwers and "look into the responsibility of the organizers of

the demonstration".

"If it was not legally permitted, they must be immediately arrested," he

said.

Political observers expressed surprise at Hun Sen's comments, given Chea Sophara's

close links to the Second Prime Minister. They said that it was not the first time

that the Ministry of Interior had granted approval for KNP demonstrations, but suggested

that it was unusual for an official such as Chea Sophara to recommend the granting

of permission.

Death Toll

1. Yong Soknev

F

20 years
2. Yong Srei

F

22 garment worker
3. Chanti Pheakdei

F

13 years
4. Ros Sothea

M

 
5. Sok Kheng

F

20 garment worker
6. Yos Siep

F

22 garment worker
7. Han Mony

M

33 bodyguard
8. Yoeun Yorn

M

17 student
9. Sum Sarin

M

50 KNP
10. Chet Duong Daravuth

M

30 KNP & journalist

Five others are believed dead but have not been identitified.

(Information provided by Licadho, and relatives of the dead.)

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