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Prime Minister Hun Sen: Protect right to peaceful protest and end military crackdown in Cambodia

Prime Minister Hun Sen: Protect right to peaceful protest and end military crackdown in Cambodia
  
  

 

Why this is important to me

STAY UPDATED ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/peacefulprotestCambodia

WATCH VIDEO: Democracy Unraveling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ergpvoMlQFg

IN KHMER: http://on.fb.me/1cZFdPK

EN FRANCAIS: http://on.fb.me/1cOxHan

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On the morning of 4 January 2014, state forces tore into Freedom Park, an area specifically designated for peaceful protest in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Peaceful protestors have been occupying the park for almost six months since the national elections in July 2013.

Hundreds of heavily armed riot police and military police blocked the roads surrounding Freedom Park, before moving in with hundreds of thuggish civilians wearing red armbands. No warning or announcement was made to peaceful protestors. Armed with guns and meter-long steel poles to beat and intimidate, they cleared the park occupied mostly by monks and women with children. State forces then began dismantling the structures that had been set up as temporary shelter for protestors. They also destroyed a Buddhist shrine, and damaged audio equipment and the stage belonging to the Cambodian National Rescue Party, the main opposition party.

Support the right to peaceful protest. We urge the Cambodian government to partner with the international community and global companies who operate in Cambodia to put an end to the use of excessive state force to suppress peaceful protests.

The forcible clearing of Freedom Park follows two days of excessive state violence perpetrated against demonstrating workers, leaving four civilians dead and dozens wounded. Security forces used live ammunition, grenades, and tear gas on workers, who have been protesting to demand a living wage of $160 a month in the Canadia Economic Zones where global brands like Gap, Nike, Puma, and Adidas outsource their manufacturing. Union leaders, monks, and striking workers were severely beaten and arrested, held without medical attention.

Journalists and human rights observers have also been threatened and prevented on several occasions from providing medical and legal help to protestors and to document events.

Freedom Park, also known as Democracy Square, was officially designated by the government in 2010 as an area for people to air their grievances. Peaceful protesters have been using the site as part of demonstrations against a contested election. The principles of nonviolence have been a running theme to the people’s actions. Many nights at the park were spent singing, dancing, praying, and watching documentaries on other protests of nonviolence by people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. After decades of state control, intimidation, and political violence, it should be welcomed that Cambodians are now able to exercise their right to freedom of expression and right to protest. We must show our support to the thousands of Cambodian people who have sacrificed their time, livelihoods, and personal security to protest peacefully in Freedom Park.

It is absolutely vital that in a democracy, the citizens of Cambodia are allowed to protest peacefully and voice their dissent against their government. The fear is that unless this crackdown is challenged immediately, the country’s progress to a real democracy will be lost and the one-party state will become stronger and bolder to continue violating people’s human rights. Already, Cambodia's opposition leaders have been summoned to court on suspicion of inciting civil unrest and 10 men (union and rights activists) have been arrested and trumped up charges have been brought against them so that they now face up to 18 months of pre-trial detention and 5 years’ imprisonment as well as fines from $1,000 - $2,500. We urge the government of Cambodia to stop the threats, arrests, and detention of activists, union leaders, and civilians.

We ask for a global outcry over the use of violence and demand that protestors be allowed to return to Freedom Park for peaceful protests.

Supporting information:

STAY UPDATED ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/peacefulprotestCambodia

WATCH VIDEO: Democracy Unraveling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ergpvoMlQFg

READ MORE:

http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/government-blasted-for-eviction-of-freedom-park-50132/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/world/asia/cambodia.html?_r=0

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/military-police-storm-freedom-park


Posted January 5, 2014
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