SAM Rainsy Party officials say they plan to host a screening of a documentary on slain labour leader Chea Vichea despite the fact that a scheduled screening was thwarted this past weekend by municipal authorities.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann challenged the government to take action against the screening, which the SRP hopes to hold at its headquarters on an unspecfied date in the near future.
“The SRP has the right to show this movie at its facilities, and if the government wants to confiscate it, they should come into SRP headquarters and take it,” Yim Sovann said.
The film in question is Who Killed Chea Vichea?, a documentary by American director Bradley Cox that is currently touring film festivals and is scheduled for wider release in the United States later this year.
Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, said that the government had the right to block screenings of the film wherever they are held if organisers have not sought government permission.
“Any media that is produced or imported illegally, the authorities have the right to confiscate it every time,” Tith Sothea said.
“We cannot take something related to a murder case and use it for political purposes.”
SRP officials and Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun attempted to show the film on Saturday outside Wat Lanka, near the site of Chea Vichea’s 2004 murder, but the screening was broken up by police because, government officials said, organisers had failed to secure official permission for the event.
The controversial film is highly critical of the investigation of Chea Vichea’s murder, suggesting that he may have been killed on orders from the government. Interviews with friends and family of the two men originally accused of the crime suggest that they were framed.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak dismissed the SRP’s plans as “unsurprising”, accusing the party of reflexively opposing all the government’s pronouncements.