The opposition CNRP plans to screen the banned documentary film “Who Killed Chea Vichea?” this week to mark the 11th anniversary of the Free Trade Union (FTU) leader’s assassination in front of a newspaper stall in Phnom Penh on January 22, 2004.
CNRP public affairs director Mu Sochua announced on her Facebook page Tuesday that the film—which strongly suggests that the government was complicit in the unionist’s murder—would be screened at the opposition’s Phnom Penh headquarters at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan, who last year warned that anyone who screened the film in public would face deportation or arrest, said Tuesday that he believed the screening at the CNRP’s headquarters would be allowed to go ahead because the venue was private.
“But if it’s going to be a public screening, it would not be allowed because this film has been banned by the government,” he said.
“I’m sorry the [CNRP] is trying to show something to cause pain, to attack the government, by showing this film that exaggerates and interferes with the court’s work,” he added.
In January last year, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights canceled a planned showing of the film following threats from the government that organizers would be punished.
“If you defy the ban, we kick you out,” Mr. Siphan said at the time. “If you are Cambodian, we throw you in jail.”
The FTU, which is now headed by Chea Vichea’s brother Chea Mony, also met with City Hall on Tuesday and received permission to go ahead with a gathering at the statue of the slain union leader near Independence Monument on Thursday morning.
Ms. Sochua, in her Facebook post, said CNRP leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha would join the ceremony.
FTU official Seng Hak said City Hall had insisted that the gathering not be used to score political points.
“City Hall officials instructed us that they would not allow any political figures who are due to take part in the ceremony to insult government leaders or the king, or else we, the organizers, must be responsible before the law,” he said.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the purpose of the gathering was to pay respect to Chea Vichea, “so we want everyone, including political figures, to stick with the ceremony to honor the dead person.”