UN Envoy Calls on Opposition And Gov’t to Exercise Restraint

UN human rights envoy Tho­mas Hammarberg has appealed to the government and party leaders to continue to exercise re­straint and allow the demonstration across from the National Assembly to continue “in a safe and peaceful manner.”

Hammarberg also warned pro­test leaders to behave peacefully and refrain from using language that may incite violence.

In a Friday statement, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for human rights in Cam­bodia cited the right of free assembly, encouraging au­tho­ri­ties to continue to respect it.

“The special representative wel­comes the role of the authorities thus far in ensuring that the assembly has remained peaceful,” Hammarberg said.

But he reminded the police and “other relevant authorities” they were responsible for ensuring the protection of those in­volved in the demonstration.

“Only violent demonstrations …should be banned or broken up. Freedom of assembly should not be limited because of the threat from outside groups against de­monstrators.”

Hammarberg also had tough words for protest leaders: “The special representa­tive is de­eply concerned, however, about re­cent public statements by political leaders which may incite violence against a particular political party or an ethnic group.”

Protest leader Sam Rainsy has been criticized for his inflammatory anti-Vietnamese speeches and his continued tirade against Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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