Students said the Siem Reap provincial police on Sunday blocked dozens of them from holding a small ceremony at Angkor Wat to mark the upcoming 65th anniversary of French recognition of the former Kampuchea Krom provinces as part of the State of Vietnam.
Seng Ratha, a fourth-year student at Phnom Penh’s Pannasastra University, said that a group of 30 had managed to enter the Angkor Wat complex but a larger cohort of about 70 students had been physically prevented from following.
About the same number of police stopped the students, who were dressed in clothing commemorating the French government’s 1949 decision over the sovereignty of its Cochinchina colony, and turned them around.
“We handed out about 100 T-shirts with the Buddhist flag and some words to remark on Kampuchea Krom to people who attended this event, but [police] stopped them about halfway to the temple when they saw them wearing it,” Mr. Ratha said.
Siem Reap deputy provincial police chief Meas Keo denied that any students were prevented from attending the ceremony.
“We did not threaten their expression, but we moved them on about 30 minutes after they gathered,” Mr. Keo said. He explained that the students had not notified authorities of their ceremony, as required by law.