Camboya - May Day event not sanctioned; Ministry threatens – and uses – force to disperse gathering

Around 20 unions requested permission from the Phnom Penh City Hall to stage a gathering at Freedom Park on 1 May 2014. The request was denied.

According to a Ministry of Interior spokesperson, “The authorities would not give permission because it would affect our security.”

“If they are stubborn, they have to bear the consequences” and “be responsible before the law,” he said, indicating that force may be used to disperse any gathering at Freedom Park on May 1.

A spokesperson from the City Hall indicated that the authorities did not authorise the gathering because they were still investigating the January violence at the venue.

On 2 May 2014, the Phnom Penh Post reported that police and security forces injured at least five people at a Labour Day rally next to Freedom Park. The injuries occurred when the police and security forces (some in civilian dress) violently broke up the rally using batons and cattle prods.

More than 1,500 people had gathered around Naga Bridge on Norodom Boulevard at about 9 a.m. to voice demands for better working conditions and wages, and to greet the arrival of opposition leaders Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha and Mu Sochua.

At about 10 a.m., after the Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders had left, more than 100 helmeted Daun Penh district security guards, along with municipal police and plain-clothed men wielding wooden batons, metal poles and cattle prods, were deployed to disperse the thinning crowd.

On Street 108, security guards were seen beating people over the head with batons at random. One man was dragged off his motorbike and beaten on the ground by a crowd of district security guards in front of journalists and NGO workers.

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