Jan 7 Dress Rehearsal Draws 6,000—to Opposition Parties’ Ire

As many as 6,000 high school students gathered Wednesday at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium to rehearse mass commemorative events planned for the 30th an­ni­versary of the fall of Demo­crat­ic Kam­­puchea, organizers said.

Opposition party and union figures Thursday accused Prime Min­­ister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP of using the event to indoctrinate the young and of breaking rules banning electioneering outside the official campaign period.

Students at Wednesday’s re­hear­sal were given caps and T-shirts em­blazoned with the CPP’s logo, and will be similarly attired Jan 7th.

“This is a kind of remembrance and gratitude to the CPP because the CPP has brought peace,” Chea Sokhom, deputy secretary-general of the National Committee for Or­gan­izing National and In­ter­national Ceremonies, said of the rally’s participants.

“The attendance will be 20,000. The CPP always holds this ceremony every year, but this year will be the biggest,” he said.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teach­ers Association, said the ceremony pre­p­arations were taking valuable time away from students’ school work.

“This is a national festival. They shouldn’t let the students wear the CPP shirts,” Rong Chhun said.

“Even though the CPP helped the country, it should not use the shirts to campaign and mislead the people,” he said.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said the holiday should not be a party rally.

“This festival does not belong to the CPP. So don’t use the power of the party to create an image that will mislead people. This kind of activity is undemocratic,” she said.

Meas Reaksmey, deputy director of Tuol Tompoung High School in Chamkar Mon district, said 32 of his students had attended Wednes­day’s preparations.

“Even though some people think that wearing the CPP shirt is not right, I don’t care because this is the principle of the government,” he said.

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