Phnom Penh demonstrations rise in 2017

Source: KhmerTimes

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Villagers hold megaphones during a protest. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Phnom Penh City Hall yesterday said that demonstrations, strikes and protests increased last year when compared to 2016.

A report released yesterday said that 2017 saw 1,760 demonstrations, strikes and protests, an increase of 162 compared to 2016.

Last year, there were 613 protests by citizens and associations, 888 by federations, unions and workers, 60 by civil society organisations and teachers, and 195 by political parties.

In 2016, there were 1,598 demonstrations, strikes and any protests, including 221 by citizens and associations, 966 by federations, unions and workers, 52 by civil society organisations and teachers, and 359 by political parties.

Huot Hay, deputy director of administration at City Hall, said during the report’s release yesterday that authorities effectively protected public order during the protests.

“Collaborations to protect security, safety and public order were successful,” he said.

4-1-2-1Seoung Sen Karona, a human rights monitor for rights group Adhoc, said he believed that demonstrations had actually dipped in 2017 when compared to 2016.

“We believe that protests relating to land issues and a lack of true justice did not occur more in 2017,” he said. “The people were too afraid of being labelled as rebels in a colour revolution, and then jailed, so we think there was actually a dip.”

The opposition CNRP was in November dissolved after its leader Kem Sokha was jailed on treason charges for allegedly leading an attempted colour revolution to overthrow the government.

Mr Sen Karona added that there would be no need for demonstrations if the government would effectively address the concerns of protesters.

“We would like to ask the government to stop accusing demonstrators of malicious intentions when they are just seeking peaceful resolutions to disputes,” he said. “Please do not link them to a colour revolution.”

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