PHNOM PENH —
Seven people were injured Monday when opposition lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua clashed with security forces outside Freedom Park in the Phnom Penh.
Mu Sochua is leading a non-violent campaign by attempting to enter the park in protest of the government’s current ban on public gatherings.
Witnesses said civilian security forces armed with batons began beating anyone in proximity to the lawmaker as she tried to make her way into Freedom Park, which was established as a site for public gatherings but has been closed to the public since a crackdown on demonstrations in January.
At least one person was seriously injured in Monday’s violence.
Mu Sochua called the attacks “extremely cruel.”
“Freedom Park was built for the people to express their voices,” she said. “I will not give up my plan, going there every day, as long as I stay in Phnom Penh.”
Ny Chakrya, lead monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said people should be allowed access to the park. The action of the authorities to bar them is against the constitution, he added.
Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Community Legal Education Center, said the use of private security forces to enforce such a ban was likewise illegal.
“You cannot prevent people from the expression of their voices in a place like Freedom Park,” he said. “It is against the law.”
A spokesman for the city administration, Long Dimanche, dismissed the criticism.
“It is not a human rights abuse,” he said. “The authorities have the full right to enforce the law. And those who dare to go against the law must be held responsible.”