Cambodian police break up protest for TV license

AP News
Posted: Jan 27, 2014 6:07 AM
Cambodian police break up protest for TV license

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian police on Monday fired smoke canisters to break up an anti-government demonstration calling for a license to be issued for an opposition TV channel. At least eight people were injured.

Several hundred people gathered in the capital to press demand for a government critic to be allowed a TV license. The government last week rejected the application, saying there was no frequency available. All existing stations are closely linked to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen has been facing street protests since last July's general election, which the opposition alleges was rigged to favor his ruling Cambodian People's Party. They have refused to take seats in parliament and are calling for new polls.

Several other protest causes are loosely linked to the opposition, including those of textile workers seeking a higher minimum wage and opponents of land grabbing that has been blamed on government cronies.

Ny Chariya of the human rights group Adhoc said three of the injured protesters suffered serious head injuries. On Sunday, several people were injured when police tried to break up another protest. Those protesters were demanding the release of 23 other demonstrators who were arrested during a crackdown earlier this month.

The government imposed a ban on rallies and street marches in Phnom Penh after a wave of election protests in early January. The ban followed a violent clash in which at least four people taking part in a labor protest were shot dead by police.

The bid for a television license comes from Mam Sonando, a fierce government critic who is the owner and operator of Beehive Radio, one of the few opposition-aligned stations in Cambodia. He led Monday's rally in front of the Information Ministry.

He also asked for a license for broadcasting a relay of his Phnom Penh-based radio station.