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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.