City authorities blocked protesting students from marching in the capital Thursday, as a two-week demonstration by medical students over entry exams continued.
Students of the University of Medicine Science say they have been arbitrarily excluded from the school, despite merited performances on entrance exams.
More than 100 police armed with electric batons and shields and supported by a water cannon stopped the march of the students, who planned to move from the university to the ministries of Health and Education and the office of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
No one was injured, officials and witnesses said.
“We didn’t close their freedom, but we should ban any unlawful protests,” said Brig. Gen. Touch Narath, chief of Phnom Penh police. “The protest was affecting public security, so police had to ban them.”
Moli Nich, a 19-year-old medical student and demonstrator said students were disappointed, as they had planned a peaceful protest.
“We think that this is unfair for us, because we were holding a non-violent demonstration, not destroying public property, so police should allow us to reach our goal,” she said.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Teachers Association, which led the protest, told reporters the banned demonstration was another sign of eroding freedoms.
“This shows that Cambodia is losing everything, such as the freedom of expression the rights of demonstrators,” he said. “I will lead the students in protest until we have a solution from the university.”