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The show must go on

The show must go on

A Union activist has announced he will screen a controversial film at the city’s new Freedom Park at 5:30pm tomorrow, whether or not officials give their permission for the film to be shown publicly.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said he wrote to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema yesterday requesting permission to screen Who Killed Chea Vichea?, a 2009 film exploring the murder of the union activist.

“This film screening is intended for workers, teachers and people who can be aware of who killed Chea Vichea,” Rong Chhun said in the letter.
“It is also a reminder to the authorities to accelerate the investigation of this case to provide justice for Mr Chea Vichea.”

Chea Vichea, the former head of the Free Trade Union, was gunned down outside Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka in 2004.

Though two men were arrested in connection with the killing, they were released in 2009 and rights activists have been urging the government to track down those responsible.

Kep Chuktema declined to comment yesterday, but Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Rong Chhun would only have the right to screen the film if he received permission from the authorities.

According to the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, protests can only be held at the Freedom Park with 12 hours’ advance notice and are capped at 200 persons.

He said Who Killed Chea Vichea?, a film directed by American Bradley Cox, was produced without permission from the relevant institutions. Since it was illegal, he said, it could not be screened publicly, and could only be shown privately.

“It is still a forbidden film. There is no public spot for him to screen it. If he wants to screen it, he can go and try. He has tried that already,” Khieu Sopheak said.
Previous attempts to screen the film in May were stymied by authorities.

Rong Chhun said that if the government refuses him permission to show the film, they should abolish the newly created Freedom Park, which the city has promoted as an arena for free expression.

“Otherwise, the Freedom Park was just created to deceive national and international opinion,” he added.

Chea Mony, Chea Vichea’s brother and the current FTU president, urged the government to shine a light on the murder of his brother, saying that banning the film would only perpetuate the culture of “impunity” in Cambodia.

But Kong Kannara, under secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said the film was produced without a licence and that the authorities would take action to stop the screening.

“If it is illegal, they have the right to block it,” Kong Kannara said.

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