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Violence as demonstration ban defied

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May Day demonstrators march south along Sothearos Boulevard this morning in Chamkarmon district after they were stopped from demonstrating in front of Phnom Penh’s National Assembly by police. Scott Howes

Violence as demonstration ban defied

A PEACEFUL rally near a heavily barricaded Freedom Park this morning was attacked by security forces wielding sticks and electric batons as protesters gathered to mark International Labour Day.

At least one bystander was badly beaten and several others received minor injuries as security forces, seemingly at random, picked out people on the street.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Freedom Park in the early morning and were joined by a group of about 200 workers who had been moved on from outside the National Assembly by security forces and police.

Yorm Sothea, a worker protesting at Naga Bridge near Freedom Park, said she had taken to the streets to call on the government to lift the ban on gatherings and to improve the lot of workers.

“We want the government to answer about the security presence and to raise our wages. Right now, the current situation is a violation of our rights, because we are forced to do other jobs to support our families,” she said.

An announcement by City Hall this week re-imposed a blanket ban on gatherings across the capital ahead of the upcoming local elections campaign period, which begins tomorrow.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, along with his Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy Kem Sokha and lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua, attended a ceremony on Veng Sreng Boulevard earlier to remember those killed in deadly violence in early January, before joining protesters at the park.

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