The deputy governor of Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district was attacked by a group of CNRP supporters Thursday at a memorial ceremony marking the 39th anniversary of the day the Khmer Rouge came to power.
The brief clash occurred after Prach Seiha, the deputy governor, attempted to prevent a woman from selling video CDs showing violent police and military repressions of land and labor rights activists.
Mr. Seiha, who was attending the ceremony at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center along with some 300 opposition supporters, sustained scratches to his neck and a cut to his ear in the skirmish.
Contacted Thursday after the incident in which he was scratched, he said that the sale of the video CDs was “not allowed” and declined to comment further.
Dozens of Dangkao district security guards and military police were deployed to Choeung Ek, which is on the southern outskirts of the capital, to find the culprits responsible for attacking Mr. Seiha. But authorities left an hour later after Phath Phalla, vice president of the CNRP’s Phnom Penh executive committee, negotiated with district governor Nuth Puthdara to calm the situation.
Earlier this week, City Hall said the CNRP could hold the ceremony at Choeung Ek on the condition that it not be used to raise political issues.
The video CDs being sold show violent police repression of activists from long-running land disputes in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak and Borei Kelia communities, among others. They also contain footage of the fatal military police crackdown on striking garment factory staff on Veng Sreng Street in January.
Mao Monyvann, the CNRP lawmaker-elect who presided over the ceremony, said that Mr. Seiha’s attempt to shut down the 50-year-old woman selling the video CDs was excessive.
“I don’t think the authorities understand the meaning of the video CDs because they only contain nationalist songs, and some show the victims of land disputes,” Mr. Monyvann said.
“What [Mr. Seiha] did is a violation of City Hall’s permission [to hold the ceremony] and people’s human rights.”
However, Khoun Yano, Choeung Ek commune police chief, said that the CNRP had agreed not to disseminate political messages during the ceremony, and that Mr. Seihas’ intervention was appropriate.
Mr. Yano also said that the people who had scratched Mr. Seiha had not yet been identified.
“We couldn’t identify who they are because there was chaos,” he said. “I don’t know what to do now, I am waiting to hear from Mr. Seiha.”
reaksmey@cambodiadaily.com
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