Police pushed Mu Sochua, a senior member of the opposition CNRP, out of Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park for the third time in three days Thursday.
She says she is conducting a daily demonstration against arbitrary and ambiguous laws put in place to prevent people from using the park, an area specifically created for public protest.
Shortly after her 8 a.m. arrival, Ms. Sochua, director of public affairs for the CNRP, was surrounded by riot police and helmeted Daun Penh district security guards. After forcing the lawmaker from the park, police followed her down Norodom Boulevard.
“What law do they have to arrest me?” she asked at the park.
“Judicial officers have the right to arrest me, but they are not judicial officers. Under what law have I done wrong? You do not have the right to touch me,” she told the officers.
The authorities fell back as the lawmaker-elect strode past Independence Monument in the direction of the CNRP offices in Chak Angre Leu commune.
“We have to have the right to express our views…those who do not give us freedom do not respect the words of the former King,” she said in reference to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
“I have never seen a lawmaker more stupid than her,” mumbled one of the helmeted security guards, who have become the government’s go-to protest busters since July’s disputed election.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche could not be reached for comment. On Wednesday, however, he said that Ms. Sochua must request permission to enter Freedom Park, due to her propensity to start public protests.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak admitted on Wednesday that Ms. Sochua was not breaking any laws by entering Freedom Park, explaining that security guards treated her with hostility because they “don’t like her.”
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