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Bystanders Beaten as Opposition Rallies for May Day

Cambodia's factory workers and members of the country's main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, cheer as opposition leader Sam Rainsy arrived at a street near Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Security forces and police randomly struck out at bystanders in the capital on Thursday, after opposition leaders held an International Labor Day rally near the site of a brutal government crackdown on workers in January.

Speaking to supporters outside the Canadia Industrial Park, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said workers should have their salaries increased, to $160 per month.

He also said the government must bring to justice those security forces responsible for at least four deaths in the January crackdown.

“We urge that all criminals be brought to account,” he said.

Sam Rainsy also reiterated the opposition’s position over election reforms, including of the National Election Committee.

Supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party later clashed with police and security personnel, as Rescue Party leaders sought to lead the gathering to Freedom Park, in defiance of a government ban on public gatherings.

Journalists and bystanders were beaten with truncheons or prodded with electric batons, seemingly at random, during the clashes. At least five people were reported injured.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan called the speeches over wage increases “demagoguery,” claiming that workers and factories must find what works for them.