Official Defends CPP’s Plan for Ceremony

CPP spokesman Khieu Kan­harith defended the ruling party’s plan to hold a ceremony next week, despite a months-long citywide ban on public demonstrations, saying the 10,000 supporters expected to attend the event will remain inside CPP headquarters.

Representatives of civil society groups said Monday the Dec 2 celebration marking the 25th an­niversary of the formation of the anti-Pol Pot resistance movement, from which the CPP emerged, illustrates the government’s biased implementation of the constitutional right to peaceful assembly.

Khieu Kanharith said Tuesday the government has a principle of allowing people to hold demonstrations where they are appropriate, such as a political party’s headquarters. “If the people want to march on public roads, then they have to ask permission from the local authority,” he said.

Groups are prohibited from marching on the street because the gatherings could turn violent due to tensions stemming from the current political impasse in the formation of a new government, Khieu Kanharith said.

The UN Office of the High Com­missioner for Human Rights warned last week that the failure to authorize peaceful gatherings has created a culture of violence, as demonstrated by the excessive force used by police to scatter striking workers last week.

Khieu Kanharith insisted that the thousands of CPP supporters expected to attend the event will not leak into the streets. Instead, he said, the crowd will be kept inside the grounds of the party’s headquarters on Noro­dom Bou­levard.

The party plans to stage smaller celebrations simultaneously throughout the country.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the Khmer Youth Association, said Khieu Kanharith’s statement does not suitably justify the government’s selective authorization of public gatherings.

“Everything is up to the CPP, so if the CPP said that the assembly is all right, they will say it’s ac­cording to the law,” he said Tues­day.

Yong Kim Eng said he doubted all 10,000 CPP supporters could remain inside the party compound and likely would block traffic.


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