SRP Trash Collectors Brave Second Police Ban

For the second time in a week, SRP youth movement members Monday defied official injunctions against collecting litter, brushing past police to pick up trash from Banteay Meanchey province streets.

As many as 200 of the party’s youth members on Jan 1 had also collected litter in Battambang town, ignoring authorities’ orders to stop what they called an unauthorized demonstration.

Keang Saron, SRP deputy president for Battambang province who took part in Monday’s cleanup, said that about 80 party youth movement members in the provincial capital of Serei Saophoan ignored police, who told the youths to stop.

“They warned the youths not to keep walking,” he said, adding that after a brief standoff, police allowed the cleanup to go ahead. “The po­lice said that what we have done is illegal,” he added.

The youths collected litter from two markets, a bus station and the town’s streets, he said.

In a Jan 4 directive, Serei Sao­phoan District Governor Oum Reatrei ordered police to halt the cleanup.

“District police and military police must intervene by denying permission for the Sam Rainsy Party Youth Movement to collect litter because the Sam Rainsy Party didn’t seek permission,” he wrote, according to a copy of the document received Sunday.

District police chief Rem Virak said Monday he decided to allow the cleanup in order to avoid a more serious confrontation.

“We allowed them to continue when they didn’t listen to us,” he said, adding that authorities considered the cleanup to be a demonstration as the youths wore SRP T-shirts and hats.

Party President Sam Rainsy said Monday that the youths wore party logos merely to show that the SRP was performing a public service.

“We are not public employees,” he said. “This is our pride.”

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