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SRP to honour victims of 1997 grenade attack

SRP to honour victims of 1997 grenade attack

THE Kingdom’s main opposition party has invited monks to a special ceremony today to honour Cambodians who sacrificed their lives fighting for political freedom.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker and Secretary General Ke Sovannroth said the party planned to gather 200 people for the ceremony in which 12 monks will be invited to pray for the dead. She said the SRP holds a similar ceremony every year. “We hold this ceremony every year, both on March 30 and on Pchum Ben day,” Ke Sovannroth said.

On March 30, 1997, at least 16 people were killed and another 100 injured during an opposition-led demonstration in front of the former National Assembly building. Four grenades were thrown into a crowd. No one has ever been held responsible or punished by the Cambodian justice system for the crimes.

“The ceremony … is to remind people to be grateful for [the victims’] patriotism, because they sacrificed their lives to demand freedom and democracy,” Ke Sovannroth said.

“We want politicians not to forget those who struggled for freedom and justice.”

Government officials said they would not interfere with the ceremony. Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said: “Our obligation is to uphold the law, strengthen public discipline and find killers.”

Earlier this year, the NGO Human Rights Watch criticised the fact that no one has ever been brought to trial for the fatal 1997 attack. A spokesman called it an “open wound in Cambodia”.

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