Protests in Cambodia quickly turned violent this morning, as demonstrators clashed with police and beat them. About 40 people were reportedly injured, the majority of whom were security forces.
Protesters were demanding that the government re-open Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, which was closed to the public in January. The demonstration was led by Mu Sochua, from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has led a campaign since April aiming to open the park.
Activists arrived at the scene early today carrying a banner that read, Free the Freedom Park.
After the protesters attempted to string up signs on the razor-wire fence surrounding the park, guards started hitting them with batons. In retaliation, the crowd attacked the guards and police with flag poles and batons they grabbed from the security forces. Officers then responded with tear gas and smoke grenades to try to quell the ensuing riots.
Freedom Park had been the only site where political protests were allowed in the capital until it was shut after it was the site of anti-government protests aimed at toppling Cambodia’s current prime minister, Hun Sen. Although Cambodia is technically democratic, Sen has been in power for nearly three decades and has been accused by opposition figures of authoritarianism, corruption, and vote rigging.
Three politicians from CNRP were detained following today's protest.