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Nascent Group Holds First Protest

The Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, or IDEA, held its first protest as an organization Friday, gathering villagers near the Thai border to demand the lower cost of goods and fuel.

It did not go smoothly.

Police surrounded about 100 protesters in Bantey Meanchey province’s Poipet commune, preventing them from amassing an expected 500 supporters of tuk-tuk drivers, cart-pullers, porters and shop vendors, IDEA Director Von Pov said.

The protesters had planned a 1 kilometer march, he said. They managed only 200 meters. They’d planned to use loudspeakers, but were not allowed.

Banteay Meanchey Police Chief Hun Hean said the group was protesting without permission—a claim Von Pov denies.

“We prohibited,” the police chief said, but we did not pressure their freedom of expression. We just guaranteed traffic safety for the people, vendors and tourists.”

Adhoc rights investigator Sum Chankea called the police action a stifling of free expression.