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Peace Marchers Dispersed by City Security Personnel

Visitors sit near a large clock displayed on the ground at Wat Phnom, in Phnom Penh, file photo.
About 50 Cambodian youths were prevented by city security personnel from performing a peace march in the capital on Tuesday.

The youth, from the Working Group for Peace, had hoped to hold a non-violent march near Wat Phnom, a city landmark, to the Royal Palace, to mark Buddha’s birthday, but they were broken up by security personnel.

Prak Sokhany, a representative for the group, said security forces made threats and intimidating acts, calling the ban “beyond words.”

“Today is the day of Vesak, Buddha’s birthday, so we want to celebrate this day for peace,” she said.

Small groups have continued to push against the government’s ban on assembly that was enacted after massive pro-opposition demonstrations in the capital in January.

An unnamed district representative told the youths Tuesday he would not allow a march.

“You can’t just gather and march here,” he said. “If you want, you need to ask permission from the municipality. It’s illegal without permission.”

No clashes were reported Tuesday, but after the marchers were dispersed, hundreds of police were seen surrounding Wat Phnom.