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Eight Injured in Cambodian Demonstration

  • VOA News

Cambodian riot police officers block protesters led by Cambodia's most prominent human rights defender Mam Sonando demanding the government to allow him to open a new television channel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 27, 2014.

Cambodian riot police officers block protesters led by Cambodia's most prominent human rights defender Mam Sonando demanding the government to allow him to open a new television channel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 27, 2014.

Cambodian riot police clashed with anti-government protesters Monday in the capital, injuring at least eight of the demonstrators.

Police fired smoke canisters and used batons to disperse hundreds of demonstrators in front of the Information Ministry in Phnom Penh.

Police say demonstrators, led by radio station owner Mam Sonando, refused requests to disband, blocking traffic and causing traffic congestion.

“He blocked roads that caused traffic congestion and disturbed social order, said military police spokesman Kheng Tito. "It affected public interest. He also refused repeated requests to disband. Therefore, our forces had no choice but to disperse them."

The protesters were demanding a license for a new television channel that would be independent of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In an interview with VOA's Khmer service, Sonando said the demonstration was one called for by the people. His Beehive Radio broadcasts the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and other international programming.

"[The] People's demand is legitimate, constitutional, and in line with the government policy. I am here to support what the people want. But if the people resort to violence, I won't support it," said Sonando.

Currently all TV stations have close links to the government, which says there are no frequencies available.

The government imposed a ban on street demonstrations in the capital after a wave of protests in early January challenging the results of last year's election, which the opposition alleges was rigged.

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