King Rebukes City for Stifling Peaceful Protest

King Norodom Sihanouk has admonished Phnom Penh munic­ipal­­ity for cracking down on last week’s peaceful protest by students and motorbike taxi drivers against surging gasoline prices.

“Violent demonstrations must be condemned. But our Consti­tution allows peaceful demonstrations,” King Sihanouk said in a message posted on his Web site.

“The bans and repressions [of peaceful protests] are anti-Con­stitutional,” he wrote in another message.

Police dispersed up to 300 students and motorbike taxi drivers demonstrating in front of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

One of the student leaders of the protest said Sunday he has been summoned to court after filing a lawsuit against Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema for violating the protesters’ rights.

Nouhem Prum Virak, 25, president of the Students’ Movement for Democracy, said Prosecutor Ouk Savuth ordered him to ap­pear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday.

Nouhem Prum Virak and former students’ movement president Um Sam An, 30, who were briefly detained by police June 1, said the students’ movement launched its lawsuit against Kep Chuktema Thurs­day, accusing the governor and other authorities under his command of violating the Con­sti­tution.

“We hope the Phnom Penh court will hold a trial in this case to seek justice,” Um Sam An said.

Ouk Savuth confirmed Sunday he issued summonses to both stu­dent and municipal representatives, but said the court would first hold a hearing for the students only.

The municipality had not re­ceived the summons Sunday, Municipal Deputy Cabinet Chief Heng Vantha said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)


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