Students Ply Streets, Gov’t, Embassies

An estimated 3,000 student demonstrators on Saturday and Sunday continued protests of the July 26 election results, demanding state-media coverage of their marches and a change in government.

Three trucks of protesters surrounded by hundreds of motorcyclists and walkers plied Phnom Penh’s streets for most of the day Sun­day, jeering state-run media for news broadcasts they say favor the ruling CPP. Protesters in front of the Mi­n­istry of Inform­ation displayed six tel­evisions with screens covered with cartoon images of Second Prime Minis­ter Hun Sen.

Television stations have downplayed student and opposition protests, which have drawn as many as 15,000 people. Various local television and radio outlets, some of which are owned in part by the CPP or run by the government, favored CPP stalwarts in their news coverage in the run-up to the July 26 election. The Students for Democracy have marched for the past five days.

The student demonstrators, in­cluding 50 monks, on Sunday held Buddhist prayers and laid flowers in front of the Faculty of Med­­icine to remember students killed in a Novem­ber 1991 military crackdown on demonstrations in Phnom Penh.

“This is the first time Cambo­dian students have paid homage to the spirit of students” killed pro­­­testing government policy, said Sy Rovutha, a third-year student at the Faculty of Law and a protest leader.

The demonstrators protested in front of the French and Japa­nese embassies, which have supported the July 26 elections as ge­n­­erally being free and fair. Kyodo news reported that the Japanese am­­­bassador refused to grant an aud­ience to the students.

In a statement released Satur­day and read to US and EU diplomats in meetings last week, pro­test leaders said the reputation of na­tions endorsing the poll result “would receive shame when­ever Cam­bodian people strug­gle them­selves to show the outside world that your assessment is exactly opposite to their will.”



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