Union Denied Demonstration During Ban Ki-moon’s Visit

Phnom Penh Municipality has officially denied Cambodian Confederation of Unions President Rong Chhun’s request to demonstrate on Tuesday at Wat Botum Park and to deliver a petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his visit next week.

A copy of the order dated and signed yesterday by deputy municipal Governor Touch Sarom, gave no reason or explanation for the denial.

“This is municipal’s nature to not permit us to express our freedom of expression and assembly,” Mr Chhun said yesterday. “This ban is an example of Cambodia’s lack of freedom of expression and proof that the Cambodian government is developing the wrong way without democracy.”

Mr Chhun said he wrote municipal Governor Kep Chuktema on Thursday to ask for permission for an unspecified number of people to gather at the park peacefully. The letter stated that demonstrators would present to Mr Ban a list of concerns, over topics such as irregularities in border demarcation with Vietnam, the impunity in the country and the still-unsolved murder of outspoken Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea, Mr Chhun said. Mr Ban starts his official three-day visit on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t matter that municipality will not permit it, our plan to assemble and march is not going to be cancelled,” Mr Chhun said.

So Phanara, Phnom Penh City Hall’s chief of administration, confirmed that he received Mr Chhun’s request but he referred questions about the denial to Hok Huor Lim, deputy chief of the municipal law unit, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.


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