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Thread: Military police storm Freedom Park

  1. #1
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Military police storm Freedom Park

    Military police storm Freedom Park

    Sat, 4 January 2014

    A GROUP of Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers-elect are holed up at their party headquarters in the capital’s Meanchey district, while top leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha are meeting in "a safe place," after authorities forcefully evicted opposition demonstrators from Freedom Park today.

    Amid rumours that the government intends to arrest key opposition and union figures, CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said the party’s lawmakers-elect had gathered in solidarity in its office – close to the Ministry of Interior.

    “I don’t think it [the arrest warrants] is a rumour,” she said. “I think it is a reality. “It’s a matter of time, [but] I have no idea [what the government is accusing us of]. How would I? We’ve done nothing wrong.”

    Rainsy and Sokha, meanwhile, were meeting with leaders from the international community, she said, adding that she was not privy to the location.

    When called for comment, Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Chiv Keng, pled ignorant of any warrants.

    Negotiations with the government, meanwhile - originally planned for yesterday, but nixed by the opposition following a violent crackdown against garment workers and monks - appear to be off the table altogether now, Sochua added.

    “[Interior Minister] Sar Kheng said he no longer wants to communicate with Mr. Rainsy,” she said.

    Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said he had moved to an undisclosed area on the outskirts of the capital.

    “It’s unbelievable,” he said of the crackdown in Freedom Park. “I don’t know what their plan is. But this is their own fear.”

    Athit said he had been trying to contact his president, Ath Thorn – one of the union leaders rumoured to be the subject of an arrest warrant – without success.

    Earlier in the day, riot police in full body armour were seen blocking off Freedom Park ahead of its planned clearing.

    Minutes later, two trucks with loudspeakers pulled into the northwest corner of the park, followed by a large contingent of military police who charged into the crowd with shields and batons.

    Most of the peaceful protest quickly scattered, though a number of demonstrators, including monks, were seen being beaten by police as they attempted to flee.

    Amid the large group of riot police, a separate group of men dressed in plainclothes and armed with sticks were also seen taking part in the operation. They were identified by a red ribbon tied around their arms.

    After clearing out the majority of people, military police began violently dismantling the tents and tearing down the stage set up by the opposition.

    The action followed a letter sent this morning from Phnom Penh city governor Pa Socheatvong to CNRP president Sam Rainsy, announcing that the opposition would not be permitted to hold further demonstrations due to recent violence.

    "In order to maintain security and social order… the Phnom Penh Municipality decided not to allow the Cambodia National Rescue Party to hold further demonstrations at Freedom Park and rallies on streets in Phnom Penh starting January 4, 2014, until the security situation and public order is returned to normal," the statement says.

    Long Dimanche, spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, conflated the party’s peaceful protests with recent violence that has erupted during an ongoing national garment strike over the minimum wage, claiming that some CNRP demonstrators, including monks, had left Freedom Park to join striking workers, damaging public and private property and disrupting the public order.

    Military police yesterday shot dead at least four people during a strike outside the Canadia industrial park on the outskirts of the capital.

    This afternoon, with Freedom Park cleared of all but journalists and rights activists, armed forces marched through the side streets surrounding Freedom Park, threatening and chasing bystanders as military helicopters, recently purchased from China, flew low overhead.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Security Guards, Police Forcibly Clear Freedom Park
    By Colin Meyn - January 4, 2014




    At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, municipal security guards and men in plainclothes, wielding steel bars, metal pipes, batons, sticks and axes, forcibly cleared hundreds of demonstrators from Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where the opposition CNRP has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen for three straight weeks.

    Demonstrators, including monks and women, were indiscriminately beaten as they ran away.

    The move by the CPP government came one day after its security forces shot dead at least five, and injured more than 20, protesting garment workers, armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails, during clashes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district.

    City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the park had to be cleared to restore public order in the capital city, which has been host to daily protests marches and mass demonstrations in recent weeks.

    “This is the message of City Hall to [opposition leader] Sam Rainsy that City Hall doesn’t allow him to do this [hold demonstrations],” Mr. Dimanche said.

    “We prevent him holding [demonstrations in Freedom Park] because they may only use non-violence in the park, but they allow the demonstrators outside the park to use violence and make insecurity for society,” he added.

    Mu Sochua, the head of public affairs for the CNRP, decried the actions of police and state-sponsored thugs.

    “We adamantly condemn the crackdown on Freedom Park—this is democracy square,” Ms. Sochua said.

    “Violence on citizens, on monks, on elected representatives…is an act that is unconstitutional and we call on the international community to join us in condemning this type of violence,” she added.

    At about 11 a.m. dozens of municipal police armed with tear-gas rifles began gathering at the corners of Freedom Park, while hundreds of military police congregated on the surrounding streets.

    Within minutes of the police establishing their presence around the park, about 100 thugs, some wearing dark blue security uniforms and others in plain clothes, rushed into the northwest corner of the park as demonstrators began screaming and running away in fear.

    Long Ry, a lawmaker and head of security for the CNRP, stepped onto the main stage, took the microphone and told people to take what belongings they could and get out of the park.

    Once the park was cleared, the security guards and thugs began tearing down the tents and staging that has been erected in the park over the past three weeks. They also knocked down a Buddhist shrine in the center of the park.

    Demonstrators moved to surrounding streets as military police sealed off the entry roads to the park.

    At 12:30 p.m., the men who cleared the park, under the watch of police authorities and municipal hall officials, continued to tear down structures at the park as three small Chinese-made military helicopters flew overhead.

    In heart of the garment factory area in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, around Veng Sreng Street, where Friday’s violence occurred, hundreds of battlefield troops, particularly from the Brigade 70 unit, were deployed Saturday and were patrolling streets in large military trucks and jeeps mounted with light machine guns.

    Residents and garment workers in the area said that thousands of workers have returned to their home provinces for fear of further repression by the forces now deployed in the area. One mini-bus driver said he had taken two van loads of workers to Svay Rieng province Saturday. Passengers said they were fleeing in fear.

    City Hall released a statement Saturday morning, signed by Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, saying that CNRP demonstrations and marches would no longer be tolerated by the municipal government.

    “Some protesters who come out of Freedom Park, including monks, have done illegal activities and provoked along the streets, factories and other state institution, without control and with no responsibility from the demonstration leaders,” the statement says, citing the country’s laws on peaceful demonstrations.

    “Based on this situation…the Phnom Penh municipality has decided not to allow the CNRP to continue demonstrations at Freedom Park or marches along the streets in Phnom Penh starting from January 4, 2014, until security and public order is guaranteed.”

    Acting Phnom Penh police chief Mok Chito, who arrived at the park minutes after it was cleared, denied that municipal police has any involvement in clearing the park.

    “Our police did not beat up these protesters; we just provided protection around the park. I don’t know what happened inside,” he said.

    “From now on, we will not allow them [the CNRP] to gather or hold protests unless the security is guaranteed, and after that the party can request to [hold demonstrations] again,” he added.

    Ms. Sochua said that she has been informed that Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued arrest warrants for leaders of the CNRP.

    “Apparently they [municipal authorities] have the arrest warrants in their hand and are coming to party headquarters,” she said.

    “As [CNRP] members of parliament we are going to party headquarters right now and we are assembling,” she she said, adding that party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha were meeting elsewhere with members of the international community.

    Sok Roeun, deputy chief prosecutor at municipal court, referred questions about the warrants to chief prosecutor Yet Chakriya, who could not be reached.

    Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said that he did not believe that the opposition leaders would be arrested before they were called to court for questioning
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 4th January 2014 at 19:52.

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    Escalating protests in both Thailand & Cambodia, great news just as I start packing my bags to head over there shortly

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