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Protest Leaders Briefly Detained

Rong Chhun, second from left, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association and Cambodian lawmaker Mu Sochua, center, walk to a protest site to participate in a march marking World Teachers Day, file photo.
A handful of protest leaders were grabbed by police and briefly detained Tuesday, released only after they signed promises not to join in more anti-government rallies.

Among the eight arrested were outspoken activists Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, and Tep Vanny, a representative of Phnom Penh evictees who was given an award in Washington last year.

The arrests took place in front of the US Embassy, where protesters had gathered to submit a petition calling for the release of 23 detainees caught up in demonstration crackdowns earlier this month.

Sia Phearum, director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said protesters were calling for international help in obtaining the release of the detainees, who have been held far from family support and legal counsel.

“I regret very much that security forces have acted to arrest even more people,” he said. “This shows that Cambodia is led by dictatorial leaders.”

Phnom Penh municipal officials declined to comment Tuesday.

Meanwhile, opposition supporters for the Cambodia National Rescue Party saw their own gathering disrupted, this one in Kandal province, outside the capital.

Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy said police were attempting to incite violence among opposition supporters, so the rally was canceled.