Relief After Peaceful Human Rights Forum

kompong seam district, Kom­pong Cham province – After a Tuesday forum organized by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights was shut down by angry CPP supporters, the relief among speakers and organizers at a peaceful CCHR forum Thursday was palpable.

“The difference between today and Tuesday is that today there were only 10 to 15 CPP supporters,” CCHR President Kem Sokha said, adding that the same group of about 10 people had caused disturbances at previous forums.

The Tuesday forum, also organ­iz­ed by the center, was shut down by police when a group of some 40 peo­ple started shouting pro-CPP slo­gans.

About 300 people were gathered Thursday to discuss rights is­sues brought up by people in the crowd and answered by a panel of guest speakers. During the 4-hour debate, the atmosphere was tense only once—when a man ac­cused the speakers of causing cha­os and turning people against Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I have not come here today to sup­port you people. If I do not think about Samdech Hun Sen’s word to be calm, I would destroy you,” he said angrily and pointed at the speakers.

The man, who said his name was Kao Chheang Buon, claimed  the speakers were alive only be­cause of Hun Sen.

After the forum, Kem Sokha suggested that local po­lice conduct an investigation. But Kom­pong Seam district police Deputy Chief Eng Bun Kong, who was present at the forum, said police would not take action.

“He did not threaten, it was just his opinion,” he argued.

A few participants showed their sup­port for the CPP by shouting “long live January 7,” referring to the date Vietnam occupied Cam­bo­dia in 1979.

“It is always about January 7,” said Kek Galabru, president of Licadho and one of the speakers, adding that instead of dwelling on old conflicts, the development of the country should be a common goal.


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