A weekend meeting of Human Rights Party activists in Kandal province was disrupted when a supporter of the ruling party set up speakers near the event and attempted to drown out their president’s speech, HRP representatives said yesterday.
Phuong Sokha, the HRP’s executive director in Kandal, said Sum Thon – a member of the Cambodian People’s Party and the village chief in Prek Tep – blared traditional Buddhist chants and songs over a speaker system a short distance away to disrupt a meeting that drew more than 650 activists from five districts.
After about 15 minutes, local authorities asked him to reduce the volume.
“That was an intentional disturbance made on us by members of the ruling party,” he said.
According to Phuong Sokha, the HRP had permission from local authorities to hold the gathering of campaign volunteers.
However, when HRP president Kem Sokha addressed the crowd, Sum Thon turned on the loudspeaker, drowning out the speech.
Sum Thon denied that the music was an intentional disruption, saying it was part of a memorial celebration.
“It was ironic that we played a loudspeaker to celebrate a festival, but it was alleged that we were trying to disturb their meeting,” he said.
Poung Sokha, however, remained unconvinced by Sum Thon’s explanation.
“Calling it a ceremony honouring the dead is an excuse for his wrongdoing,” he said.
Poung Sokha cited as evidence Sum Thon’s decision not to hold their meeting at his own house, which was about 100 metres away from the HRP rally, but rather at the house of another activist just 20 metres away.
To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at firstname.lastname@example.org