Opposition Youth Sing Against the Ban as Armed Police Patrol

A group of eight opposition CNRP youth supporters sang a single song near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park before police deployed nearby had a chance to break up their concert on Thursday, a musical test of the new ban on public gatherings in the wake of mass anti-government protests. On Wednesday evening, the young CNRP supporters announced their plans to sing songs of nonviolence at Freedom Park and condemn the shooting deaths of at least five protesters last Friday at the hands of military police officers. But with dozens of police suited up in riot gear and armed military police already prowling the fringes of the park Thursday morning, shooing away waiting journalists, the singers did not even attempt to enter the area. Instead, the young performers opted to sing just one song next to the nearby Naga bridge, which ended before the police arrived. “We planned to perform at Freedom Park, but since the authorities surrounded it we decided to do it at Dragon Bridge,” said Lim Kimsor, the CNRP youth activist who organized the event. “We held the event to inform City Hall authorities that they are implementing the law incorrectly and that it strongly constricts Cambodia’s constitutional law and represses our human rights.” … Suspension of constitutional rights, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP government says, is necessary to counter recent mass protests by CNRP supporters calling for Mr. Hun Sen to resign, and garment workers demanding higher wages. The U.N. and several rights groups have condemned the ruling party’s actions, which experts say are illegal and unconstitutional. …

Mech Dara and Zsombor Peter