Members of the Students’ Movement for Democracy said Wednesday they will file lawsuits today against Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema and other authorities under his command for cracking down on their protest against high gas prices.
“We have discussed with our legal expert about issuing complaints and all of the victims have agreed to sue Kep Chuktema and his police who disrupted the free speech of our Students’ Movement for Democracy,” President Nouhem Prum Virak said.
Police wielding batons and guns dispersed up to 300 students and motorbike taxi drivers protesting in front of the National Assembly Tuesday morning.
Around 1 pm, five protesters who regrouped near Olympic Market were arrested, detained for three hours and coerced into signing contracts promising not to disturb the peace.
Police arrested Nouhem Prum Virak, 25; the student movement’s former president, Um Sam An, 30; Yim Sopheap, 31; Iro Channa, 23, and Sar Long Deth, 27.
Nouhem Prum Virak said Wednesday he and his fellow complainants also would sue Kep Chuktema on the grounds that their honor had been damaged by the arrests.
Kep Chuktema sounded unconcerned Wednesday. “It is no problem for me. If they sue me, that is their right. We have equal rights before the law. I am waiting to welcome them,” he said.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 17 local NGOs, condemned the suppression of the demonstration and the arrests as unconstitutional. The Youth Council of Cambodia, a pro-democracy student group, joined the outcry Wednesday, condemning police for violating freedom of expression.