News / Asia

Clashes Erupt Between Cambodian Opposition, Security Forces

  • Mu Sochua raises her hands showing a seven-finger sign, representing her party, to supporters from inside a police compound, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Opposition MP-elect Mu Sochua delivers a speech at a peaceful rally near Freedom Park before it turns violent, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Opposition activists and human rights officials protect a security guard from being attacked by angry protesters, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Police stop an SUV carrying MP-elect Mu Sochua and other opposition lawmakers when they try to leave the rally site, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • A security guard, severely beaten by angry protesters, is being taken away in a UN car for treatment, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Caps, clothes and wooden batons allegedly belonging to security guards were found after the guards left them and ran away, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Angry protesters set fire to clothes belonging to security guards after the guards left them and fled the scene, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Police stop an SUV carrying MP-elect Mu Sochua and other opposition lawmakers when they try to leave the rally site, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
  • Police close gates after taking MP-elect Mu Sochua into their compound, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 15, 2014. (Khoun Theara/VOA)
Cambodia Protest
Theara Khoun

Clashes between security forces and Cambodian opposition supporters in Phnom Penh have left nearly 60 people injured.  

The violence occurred early Tuesday when Mu Sochua, an elected member of parliament from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, led hundreds of supporters to Freedom Park, which has been closed to rallies since January.

A group of security guards moved to beat back the protesters when they tried to hang a banner on the razor wire barring entry to the park.

Cambodian lawmakers from the main opposition party of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), from right, Men Sothavrin, Mu Sochua and Keo Phirum gesture to make the number seven, the party's ballot number, as they are detained by authorities at Freedom PaCambodian lawmakers from the main opposition party of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), from right, Men Sothavrin, Mu Sochua and Keo Phirum gesture to make the number seven, the party's ballot number, as they are detained by authorities at Freedom Pa
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Cambodian lawmakers from the main opposition party of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), from right, Men Sothavrin, Mu Sochua and Keo Phirum gesture to make the number seven, the party's ballot number, as they are detained by authorities at Freedom Pa
Cambodian lawmakers from the main opposition party of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), from right, Men Sothavrin, Mu Sochua and Keo Phirum gesture to make the number seven, the party's ballot number, as they are detained by authorities at Freedom Pa

The protesters, however, fought back and about 40 security guards were injured in the ensuing violence.  According to witnesses, some were stripped of their uniforms while others were beaten with flags.

Mu Sochua, who was arrested along with other opposition officers, said in an interview with VOA's Khmer service she was trying to reopen Freedom Park for rallies and protests.

“As members of parliament elect we have fulfilled our roles, and once again we are here to ask for the release of Freedom Park and we will send this message to the Interior Ministry," said Sochua.

Long Dimanche, a spokesman for the city of Phnom Penh, blamed Rescue Party supporters for the violence and said its leaders could face criminal charges.

“Phnom Penh municipality vigorously condemns the use of violence by the youth group of the National Rescue Party on Daun Penh security guards," said Dimanche.

The clashes ended when gas canisters were fired into the crowd.
 
Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the violence demonstrates a “deep hatred” that has developed between protesters and guards.

“This is the result of anger being built up so far.  Now, when it is ripe they simply fight each other.  This is the result of cultivating the culture of violence.  On behalf of civil society group we urge both sides to renounce violence because nobody will benefit from it," said Ath.

Freedom Park was closed as part of a larger ban on public assembly following major pro-labor and pro-opposition demonstrations in January.
 
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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Comments
     
by: Bubba from: Long Beach
July 15, 2014 4:28 PM
Hun Sen and his regime are evil people. Each day, the only know how of Hun Sen and his regime is to terrorize innocent people. They use deadly forces to evict land and house from hundreds of thousands of innocent Cambodia people and sold to foreigners and keep all the money to themselves. Cambodian people are very poor and they don't have land to grow food for their survival. Hun Sen kills anybody that tries to do good thing for the society; for example, they slaughtered people that tried to protect the forest from illegal logging. They kill innocent people that protest for freedom, as you can see now. Initially, Hun Sen regime/police starts beating the protesters that makes the protesters to defend themselves.

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