A Change of Guard

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Monday 31 March 2014

Cambodia Police Beat Protesters for TV License Bid

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia March 31, 2014 (AP)

Police in Cambodia on Monday beat anti-government demonstrators who tried to defy a ban on public demonstrations to demand a license for what would be the Southeast Asian nation's first opposition television channel.
Several hundred supporters of Mam Sonando, a fierce government critic, came out to protest and at least two people were injured in the clash while several more were punched and kicked by security forces.
Prime Minister Hun Sen's government has refused to issue a television license to Mam Sonando, saying there is no frequency available.
All existing stations are closely linked to Hun Sen, who has been in power for decades.
The government has faced increasingly frequent street protests since July when elections were held that the opposition says were rigged in favor of the ruling party.
Am Sam Ath, of the local rights group of Licadho, said one protester was clubbed in the head with a baton and another was punched in the eye.
In January, Man Sonando led hundreds of supporters in a similar protest outside the Ministry of Information. That demonstration was also broken up by riot police, and at least eight people were injured.

On Sunday the opposition party held a symbolic march in the capital to avoid possible clashes with authorities, after the government banned it from meeting in one of the capital's public parks. Hundreds of security officers, armed with shields and batons, stood by to observe the peaceful rally.

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