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Protesters urge social justice, barred from Freedom Park

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The gathering at the capital’s Freedom Park follow recent arrests of activists on incitement charges. Facebook

Protesters urge social justice, barred from Freedom Park

Some 50 people were barred or arrested on Monday while attempting to hold a social justice protest at Freedom Park.

So Meta, a member of the social justice group Khmer Thavrak, said police arrested a fellow member of her group.

“The silencing of citizens’ rights and freedoms to express their views is not just to close their mouths, but also cut their throats.

“Police arrested my friend Tha Lavy this morning. This is a public square for citizens, so why did they stop us from gathering?” she asked.

Protester Muong Sopheak said citizens want freedom and social justice.

“Citizens have the rights to express themselves and express what they like or dislike. We are not marching in a procession. We didn’t hold up banners or flags either. We came only to air our grievances. Why must we have a law asking for permission?” he asked.

The gathering followed recent arrests of activists on incitement charges.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said on Monday that from Sunday to Monday police detained four people while acting on a Phnom Penh Municipal Court warrant.

Apart from Lavy, the others were Kong Sam An who was arrested in Tbong Khmum province and sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court; Mean Prommony, the head of the Khmer Student Intelligent League Association; and Keurt Saray, a former monk, who was defrocked before his arrest.

“We executed the court’s warrant charging them with incitement to cause social chaos,” Khoeun said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun said gatherings of youths, citizens, and the actions of police over the last two weeks is a reaction to the government limiting rights and freedoms.

People have suffered injustices and that is resulting in more protests than before, he said.

“Authorities continue to restrict rights, freedoms and democracy and the right of people to gather to voice their views fully. Doing so is not in line with Cambodia’s Constitution, which is supposed to be based on fundamental freedoms.

“If the authorities continue to use force, a social crisis might happen,” he said.

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