The intervention of the United Nations in two violent clashes between police and protesters on Sunday was as much of a surprise to the opposition party as to bewildered onlookers, a party spokesman said.
Officers from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights made a dramatic public entrance into the post-election fray on Sunday afternoon when a white SUV from their office pulled up in front of police barricades at Sisowath Quay to wild applause after authorities clashed with demonstrators.
“OHCHR-Cambodia was on the scene and spoke with the Police Commisioner about ways to prevent further eruptions of violence,” country representative Wan-Hea Lee said via email.
Later that evening, UN rights officials “helped to defuse the tension around the removal of the body of a victim” and transported the body to the hospital for autopsy, after 29-year-old Mao Sok Chan was shot dead by military police at the Kbal Thnal overpass, Lee confirmed.
“[We] did not expect them, but we appreciate their help,” opposition party spokesman Yim Sovann said.
“I think that the UN is everywhere now. Wherever there is a demonstration, there is a UN presence. Even today, we saw their truck parking near the demo … and [it’s its own decision].”
The CNRP appealed immediately after the election for the United Nations to be part of an investigation into election irregularities, and opposition supporters often bear signs at demonstrations calling for UN intervention.
Lee said yesterday that Sunday’s interventions were in line with the monitoring role the UN rights office has played in Cambodia since 1993.