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Authorities Ban Screening of Chea Vichea Film

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

Phnom Penh and Ministry of Interior authorities have banned the screening of a US documentary on the murder of labor leader Chea Vichea, saying the film is not licensed in Cambodia.

Organizers of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions had planned to show the film, which questions the motives behind the 2004 murder of the widely popular activist, for International Labor Day.

Organizers had wanted to screen the film following a May 1 march of around 200 workers and teachers on the National Assembly and the site near Wat Langka pagoda where Chea Vichea was killed.

In a letter to the confederation, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said authorities would approve the demonstration but not the screening of the film, which he said “has no license from related ministries.”

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the film was considered an incitement of the public that painted relevant authorities as inefficient.

The death of Chea Vichea led to the arrests of two men, Born Samnang and Sok Samoeun who were widely considered innocent and later released, an aspect of the case explored by the film. No further arrests have been made.

Rong Chhun, president of the Confederation of Unions, called the decision “a ban to a freedom.”

“The movie does not dishonor the nation,” he said. “And we think the screening would push authorities to speed up the investigation.”

Chea Mony, brother of the slain activist and head of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said the movie would link the murder to government officials, which likely prompted the ban.

Khieu Sopheak said authorities have not planned further investigation into the killing, because the two suspects who were already charged have only been provisionally released, pending the outcome of further court hearings.

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