Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police crackdown on opposition activists condemned

Police crackdown on opposition activists condemned

Police crackdown on opposition activists condemned

Human rights groups condemned the police crackdown on the Khmer Front Party protest

that began in front of Wat Phnom on August 31. ADHOC called the police response,

which included 19 arrests and several beatings, "an abuse of the Constitution

and obstruction of the democratic process in Cambodia".

At least a hundred police were deployed in front of National Assembly and along main

streets to disperse the 25 peaceful demonstrators protesting the Cambodian People's

Party (CPP) victory and Vietnamese border encroachment. The group intended to march

from Wat Phnom to the legislative building. It was stopped on Norodom Blvd.

"We saw that demonstrators never had an opportunity to form a big group,"

a representative from ADHOC said. "It is the people's right of expression to

demand something from the government."

Suth Dina, 32, president of the Khmer Front Party, said he was beaten with electric

batons on his head and body.

"When the police saw us, they rushed in to swing at us," Dina said. "I

feel that the police looked at us as their [opposing] army."

Although the party had sought permission earlier from the Phnom Penh Municipality

to hold the demonstration in front of National Assembly, it was refused.

Dina criticized the municipality for consistently granting permission to pro-CPP

groups such as the Pagoda Boys to "counter-attack" peaceful demonstrators.

The Pagoda Boys were identified by a confidential US State Department report as leaders

in the January 29 anti-Thai riots.

Dina said 20 of the demonstrators were detained for more than 30 hours by police,

but were released the next day

"Now, we are freed, but we are still under pressure and watched by undercover

agents from the CPP," said Dina. "They don't want the democrats to be strong

in Cambodia."

The Cambodia Human Rights Action Committee issued a statement on September 1 that

called on the government to punish individual police officers who used excessive

force.

Moung Khim, deputy chief of Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said there would be no investigation

or punishment of any police.

"Although there was an allegation of police violence against the demonstrators,

the issue is finished," said Khim. "We don't have complaints to investigate

on the issue."

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