Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Freedom Park braces for violence

Freedom Park braces for violence

Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua is confronted and blocked by security guards
Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua is confronted and blocked by security guards as she tries to enter Freedom Park in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Pha Lina

Freedom Park braces for violence

Elected lawmakers from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party will be beaten by security forces if they are perceived to be violating the law during their visit to Freedom Park this morning, the Ministry of Interior said yesterday.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak reasoned that because the opposition members are not considered lawmakers until they take their seats in the National Assembly, which they have boycotted to protest last year’s elections, security forces are permitted to use violence against them.

Sopheak said that a letter sent to the ministry yesterday by CNRP members, which he said called for the ban on gatherings at Freedom Park to be lifted and expressed plans to rally today, has been interpreted as an attempt to hold a demonstration against the government.

“It means that [the CNRP] wants to demonstrate. They have not been made lawmakers yet, [so] police can beat them if they do this illegally,” Sopheak said, referring to parliamentary immunity, which is generally interpreted as a way of protecting lawmakers from arrest or prosecution, though it can be removed. “If they act according to the law, [we] will defend them. If they do anything illegal, the law will be imposed with force.”

CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha said the ministry’s threats contradicted previous government statements.

“It is good that the Cambodian People’s Party said that our lawmakers are not legal. [That means] that this parliament is not legal, because the parliament needs at least 120 lawmakers,” he said.

Sokha added that parliamentary immunity has no bearing on the treatment of opposition members, who he said have in the past been beaten by security forces while sitting on the National Assembly.

CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua, who in April started the campaign to “free Freedom Park” since it was sealed off earlier this year to prevent opposition protests, said she was not concerned by the threats of violence.

“I don’t think I need to be a member of parliament to be at Freedom Park, I’ve already been elected by the people,” she said.

Ho Vann, another CNRP lawmaker-elect, told the Post that all 55 of the party’s elected lawmakers have been called on to join today’s rally.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all