CNRP event blocked by armed cops, guards

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Ananth Baliga

A SMALL gath­er­ing of Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party law­mak­ers and se­na­tors were pre­vented from con­duct­ing a re­li­gious cer­e­mony at Wat Bo­tum Park in Phnom Penh yes­ter­day by around 100 se­cu­rity per­son­nel, a day af­ter City Hall in­sisted such cer­e­monies be re­stricted to pago­das.

Op­po­si­tion of­fi­cials at­tempted to con­duct a Pchum Ben cer­e­mony for the vic­tims of the 1997 grenade at­tack near the Royal Palace and Min­istry of Justice, but were pre­vented from reach­ing the park by armed po­lice per­son­nel and Daun Penh se­cu­rity guards.

Around three dozen se­cu­rity guards were sta­tioned along the perime­ter of the park, with armed po­lice per­son­nel and plain­clothes of­fi­cers gath­ered around the Wat Bo­tum pagoda.

Mu Sochua, CNRP law­maker and deputy pres­i­dent, said seven law­mak­ers and two se­na­tors were stopped near the pagoda and in­formed they couldn’t pro­ceed any fur­ther. In­stead, the group chose to pray inside the pagoda grounds.

“The plan was to have the cer­e­mony at the stupa [in the park],” she said. “But I think they would have used vi­o­lence. They told us so.”

Sochua said nor­mally in such sit­u­a­tions there was room for ne­go­ti­a­tions with lo­cal author­i­ties, but that in this case the po­lice did not budge.

City Hall spokesman Meth Mea­s­pheakdey on Tues­day did not cite a law in deny­ing per­mis­sion for the event, but sim­ply said Pchum Ben cer­e­monies were sup­posed to be held in pago­das.

HONG MENEA

Po­lice of­fi­cials stand guard yes­ter­day at Phnom Penh’s Wat Bo­tum park where CNRP mem­bers planned to gather to host a com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mony for vic­tims of the 1997 grenade at­tack.

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