News / Asia

Cambodian Courts Charge 5 Opposition MPs-elect After Violent Protest

Police officers block a street as protesters demand the release of five opposition members of parliament, near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in central Phnom Penh, July 16, 2014.
Police officers block a street as protesters demand the release of five opposition members of parliament, near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in central Phnom Penh, July 16, 2014.
Robert Carmichael

Cambodian prosecutors have charged five opposition MPs-elect with insurrection and incitement to violence, a day after a protest in the capital turned violent.  The clash Tuesday began after a group of opposition MPs-elect and their supporters tried to gain entry to a public square in the Cambodian capital that the authorities have blocked for months.
 
Rights activists and journalists present at Tuesday’s protest say the violence erupted after district security guards tried to violently disperse several hundred opposition supporters outside Freedom Park in central Phnom Penh.
 
The violence then escalated after the protesters fought back against the guards, chasing down several and beating them.
 
Video footage of the clash shows savage violence being meted out to some guards. At least one was hit on the head with a rock; others were beaten with their own clubs. Some 40 people were injured, most of them the guards.
 
The government blames the opposition for the violence. At a news conference Wednesday, government spokesman Keo Remy claimed, among other things, that posts on Facebook proved opposition activists had planned the violence in advance.
 
“If you look at the nature of the violence, it is very brutal, it is very inhumane. The CNRP accuses the Royal Government of starting the violence, but this is truly an exaggeration. If this were true, then we can see the fact that the authorities - the security guards - with that many people with injuries, and from the CNRP activists they have no injuries at all, so we can see who started the violence,” said Remy, through a government translator.
 
Remy said the government would prosecute those whom it deemed responsible. 

“We can assure that we will do our best to bring those ringleaders, those perpetrators to bear the responsibility before the law,” he added.
 
On Tuesday the authorities arrested four opposition MPs-elect at Freedom Park and held them overnight. Late Wednesday the four - plus another MP-elect who was arrested on Wednesday along with an opposition party worker - were charged with insurrection and instigating violence. The six now face up to 30 years in jail.
 
Rights group LICADHO said the six would be held in pre-trial detention in the capital’s Prey Sar prison, which is notoriously overcrowded.
 
Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann condemned the charges, and blamed the ruling Cambodian People's Party, or CPP, for unleashing its security guards on the protesters - who up to that point had been peaceful.
 
“Second, they arrest the MPs-elect with the immunity - it is against the constitution. It is against the law. So we demand the release unconditionally of our colleagues, MPs-elect, because they have done nothing wrong,” Sovann said.
 
The standoff between the government and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, has been running for nearly a year. It began after last July’s general election, which saw the opposition make significant gains at the ballot box, winning 55 of parliament’s 123 seats.
 
The opposition has since claimed that voter fraud by the ruling CPP cost it victory. Despite months of negotiations, the two parties have failed to reach agreement, with the opposition refusing to take the 55 seats in the National Assembly to which its MPs-elect are entitled.
 
While the district security guards came off worse on Tuesday, that was in part because the well-armed riot police behind the razor wire fence surrounding Freedom Park largely failed to step in to help them.
 
In previous clashes, it was the district security guards who administered vicious beatings with batons, metal bars, and electric prods on protesters, bystanders and media. In May, both the United Nations human rights office and the Overseas Press Club of Cambodia condemned the wave of unprovoked attacks on media workers.
 
Other protests, however, have been far more violent. At least eight people - garment workers and bystanders - have been shot dead by the police and military in clashes over the past year. Although the Ministry of Interior says it is investigating those cases, it has yet to release its findings or charge anyone with the killings.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid