The government will consider a planned union rally on Sunday of several thousand people at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh an attempt to “overthrow the government,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said on Friday.
Nine unions plan to gather at the park on Sunday morning with some 10,000 supporters to call on the government to release 23 unionists and garment workers grabbed by soldiers and military police during demonstrations earlier this month, and to demand a monthly minimum wage in the garment industry of $160.
Phnom Penh municipality rejected the request to hold the rally, but said the Interior Ministry would make the final decision. “If people demonstrate, it means they are trying to overthrow the government,” Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said.
“I think they should look for a lawyer to protect [the 23 prisoners],” Lt. Gen Sopheak added. “If they did nothing wrong, they would be released.”
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the rally would not be allowed to proceed, adding that demonstrations “make Cambodia look bad and cause a lot of anarchy in society.” “We are going to use our strategy to stop them in case they try to make this [demonstration] happen illegally,” Mr. Dimanche said.