Government authorities detained seven members of the ultra-nationalist Khmer Front Party for attempting to peacefully demonstrate outside the National Assembly on Friday morning.
Police grabbed one of the men seconds after he began to demonstrate, putting him in a headlock and wrestling him to the ground, before escorting him into a nearby sport utility vehicle.
Another man was sandwiched between two military police officials on a motorbike and taken away, escorted by additional police officials on a motorbike.
The men, who were calling for border agreements to be canceled with Vietnam and protesting against Vietnamese immigration, were released without charge at 4:20 pm after signing an agreement not to demonstrate again, said Im Sinath, deputy secretary-general of the party and one of the detainees.
“They forced us to sign a contract. If we do it again, they will send us to the court,” he said.
“The authorities cursed us for not being grateful to Vietnam for liberating Cambodia,” Im Sinath said, adding that he plans to demonstrate again.
The seven were detained at Daun Penh district governor’s office. Sok Sambath, district governor, did not answer repeated phone calls Friday.
Suth Dina, President of the Khmer Front Party, condemned the incident. “This is a serious and cruel action of Hun Sen’s government, to crack down on peaceful demonstrations,” he said by telephone Friday. “They don’t allow any democratic opposition to express any feeling.”
The government appears to be making an increased effort to hamper free expression this year, Lao Mong Hay of the Center for Social Development said Friday.
Khieu Kanharith, government spokesman, and Om Yentieng, adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, did not answer repeated phone calls Friday. Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, could not be contacted.