Street-fighting men?

September 2, 2013

So, still not much to report from Cambodia at the moment, but tensions are ratcheting up a little. The opposition CNRP has announced a mass demo in Phnom Penh for this coming Saturday, which is expected to attract huge crowds, although no one is coming up with any figures so far.

In response to the demo being called, some 2,000 municipal police officers spent yesterday ostentatiously practicing crowd control techniques in central Phnom Penh. Wearing full body armour, and carrying tear gas, batons, gas masks and shields, they deployed barricades and barbed wire and used water cannons.

Most people are hoping any protests won’t turn violent, and that the show of force is merely that; a show. In response, the CNRP has been training its supporters in the art of non-violent protests, also in the centre of town. About 500 opposition supporters took turns pretending to be protestors and the police, linking arms and being pelted with empty water bottles. The Cambodia Daily described their training as “decidedly less orderly” than that of the police, saying that “few could refrain from giggling and smiling through what looked more like a play fight than genuine training.”

Foreigners have been warned by the government to stay well away from the protest; journalists are frantically trying to hunt down gas masks. I expect there to be further outflows of capital from the country, and the supermarket shelves to be stripped bare again this week, but I don’t foresee any major problems.  I could be wrong though. The Daily quoted a CNRP supporter as saying “The police will not be as gentle as us. It will be hard when it becomes real. Anger will be met with anger and the people and police might clash. People might get hit on the head and there could be blood.”

So watch this space. Oh, and don’t worry about me and Blossom; we’re far too canny to get caught up in anything.

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One Response to “Street-fighting men?”

  1. Stay safe, both of you. And let us know what unfolds.

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