Students Ask King to Find Missing Protesters

A group of students involved in protests this month have written a letter to King Norodom Siha­nouk asking for help to look into the disappearance and possible arrest of student demonstrators.

The letter, dated Thursday, also was addressed to UN Sec­retary-General Kofi Annan, the UN human rights center and “all democratic countries,” especially the US. It was signed by a monk, Oudam Meta, and two students, Amb Seng and Saro Syvutha.

“We request the King and all other addressees to intervene and put pressure on…[Second Prime Minister] Hun Sen to re­lease the peaceful demonstrators,” the letter said.

All but three of the 29 demonstrators detained last week by municipal police have been re­leased, authorities said earlier this week.

But protest leaders said many demonstrators are still missing. Some protest leaders—mostly students and monks—have fled to the provinces, students and monks around the city have said.

Last week, Cambodia’s top UN envoy for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, released a statement expressing “grave concern” over the reports of 18 bodies in and around the capital since police began cracking down on protests Sept 7. Two bodies reported to human rights workers were dressed in monks’ clothing, the statement said.

Protests turned into street fights for several days after the crackdown. At least two people were shot dead by police and many more wounded in the pro­cess.

Students at some of the municipality’s universities have established a charity fund for some of the missing students’ families, said Saro Syvutha, a third-year student at the law faculty.

The UN is planning to release a report on the numbers of people who died during protests in the capital. Other local human rights organizations said they are also investigating claims of missing students.

 

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