About 100 people protested outside the Siem Reap provincial headquarters in Siem Reap City on Tuesday to demand the release of two opposition CNRP activists who were arrested and charged Monday with inciting a brawl last month that left seven injured, police said.
Provincial police chief Sort Nady said the protesters hoped to convince provincial governor Khim Bunsong to release the two activists, Hong Nak and Chhorn Kuch Seak, both 35, but dispersed after a short demonstration Tuesday morning.
“They went back to their homes at about 9 a.m.,” he said, referring further questions to the governor.
Mr. Bunsong could not be reached. Deputy provincial governor Bun Tharith said the protesters also gathered on Monday and were also demanding the release of a third man, who is not an activist but was arrested and charged shortly after the brawl occurred.
“We told them that this was the court’s decision, but they still insisted we release them,” he said. “Their protest is illegal…and they will face [legal] action if they keep protesting.”
Mr. Tharith added that he believed someone had hired the group to protest, but did not say who.
On June 27, about 600 residents of Prasat Bakorng district’s Kompong Phluk commune gathered to vote for the president of a newly formed association of tour boat operators in the area. However, before the vote could take place another group of about 250 locals from the nearby Chung Khnies commune showed up to protest the formation of the association.
A fight broke out between the groups, leaving one man with a serious stab wound and six others with minor injuries.
Pan Voeun, 48, who joined Tuesday’s demonstration, said they were protesting because the arrested men had nothing to do with the brawl.
He added that Mr. Tharith told them if they wanted the men released, they had to get between 100 and 200 people to thumbprint a petition.
“We cannot do that because we are afraid they would use our thumbprints to do something else,” Mr. Voeun said. “We could have a problem and we do not trust them.”