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Freedom Park Remains Closed to Public

Police try to confiscate kites from protestors during a kite flying titled "Kite for Freedom of Expression" in a park near the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, file photo.
Twenty-three labor activists are free from jail, but Freedom Park remains closed to the public.

The park is a government-sanctioned place of protest, but it was closed after opposition demonstrations there in April.

On Friday, the road south of the park was reopened, but shops, restaurants and other establishments nearby have seen business suffer.

Meas Voeun, a motorcycle taxi driver, sat on his motorcycle Friday on the south road, waiting for clients. Since the road reopened, he’s seen an uptick in business, he said. “About 50 percent more, after the road opened,” he said.

Down the road, a tailor who asked to remain anonymous said business had fallen sharply since the park and roads were shut down.

“I normally have five clients per day and earn between $500 and $1,000 per month,” he said. “But when they closed the roads, I had nothing. Now the road has reopened, but clients aren’t yet coming.”

Phnom Penh spokesman Long Dimanche said there is “no threat” of protests anymore, so the roads are open. But there are no plans to reopen the park.

Yem Ponharith, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said authorities should open the park—“and leave it as before for freedom of expression.”