Supporters of the opposition CNRP and relatives of the 16 men, women and children killed in a grenade attack during a protest rally in 1997, will hold a Buddhist ceremony today at the scene of the blasts in front of the old National Assembly in Phnom Penh.
In a letter addressed to Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong, the CNRP said the Buddhist ceremony organized for the Pchum Ben festival would be “dedicated to the spirits of the heroic demonstrators who died during a terrorist grenade attack,” which occurred on March 30, 1997.
“We ask the governor to give permission and to provide security and safety,” the letter says, adding that an estimated 500 people would attend the ceremony.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy visited the park where the grenade attack took place in July shortly after he returned to Cambodia after spending four years in self-imposed exile after being convicted on charges of disinformation and destroying public property.
It was the first time that Mr. Rainsy had returned to the memorial since he left the country in 2009. No one has ever been held accountable for the attack, which also injured at least 100 people. During the attack three grenades tore through the crowds of garment workers, protesters and their families in Wat Botum Park during a demonstration led by then-Sam Rainsy Party leader Mr. Rainsy.
CNRP chief whip Son Chhay said he thought it unlikely that a CPP-led government would ever find the perpetrators behind the attack, as there is strong evidence implicating the ruling party themselves.
“We have so many serious crimes against humanity in this country that go without bringing the perpetrators to justice,” Mr. Chhay said. “Unless there’s a commitment from the government parties to find the justice for the Cambodian people, I don’t think we would have any real peace.”
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the municipality is allowing the ceremony but wants it to be over by midday. “We also requested the CNRP not to use a loudspeaker because it would disturb the monks chanting in Wat Botum,” he said.
Ly Nary, 71, said she is still grieving for the loss of her son, Doung Daravuth, a bodyguard of Mr. Rainsy’s who was killed in the attack.
“We are able to buy back property that is lost but we will never get human life back,” she said. “I have no hope that the authorities will ever find the perpetrators.”
(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)