10 June 2013

A Peculiar Phnom Penh Protest

Banners and signs:
Made and Paid for by the CPP?
The kingdom's government, the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) have no truck with protests.

Permissions to march and rally are often denied.

 Protesters are corralled and pushed, even beaten by the police.

 Several woman have miscarried in this way, and just a few weeks ago firemen were ordered to turn their hoses on peaceful, Phnom Penh protesters.

But yesterday, 10,000 protesters rallied in Phnom Penh's Freedom Park. They were allowed to come. The police let them alone.

This was no ordinary protest, though. For, it was a protest* against Kem Sokha, the vice-president of the main opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party.

This the CPP approved of.

So not only did they allow the march, they also arranged free transport for many. And they gave them water and food. Some were given money to attend

'Prior to the protest, the government had gone to great lengths to stress that any demonstration would be 'independent.' 

'But the sight of security guards telling people how to hold signs, men with walkie-talkies waving people back on to village owned trucks, and a police spokesperson confirming authorities had provided transport, food and water to many of the protesters hinted at involvement on myriad levels.'

~The Phnom Penh Post, June 10, 2013

"Some of them didn't know what this event was going to be; they were just told to show up. Some were paid between 30,000 and 50,00 riel," (about $7.50-$12.50), said Naly Pilorge, director of the human rights group Licadho, after her staff had spoken to protesters.

For a large-scale demonstration of people incensed by the words of Kem Sokha it sure was a quiet affair.

'Not once did they cheer Mr. Mey (the protest figurehead) on, and only once or twice did they half-heartedly clap or raise their arms.'

~The Cambodia Daily, June 10, 2013

Phay Siphan, spokesman spin-doctor for the council of ministers did of course deny the involvement of the CPP.

As you would expect.

Chan Soveth of human rights group Adhoc, though, said that this was a most unusual protest as demonstrators were able to exercise their freedom of speech without 'pressure.'

A CPP orgainized protest, or not? You decide.

  *It is claimed, that Kem Sohka said that the infamous Toul Sleng torture centre was not the work of the Khmer Rouge but something staged and exaggerated by the Vietnamese. Kem Sokha denies ever saying this.

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