Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday called for authorities to apprehend those responsible for an attack in the capital Phnom Penh which left two lawmakers beaten and bloodied earlier this week during an anti-opposition protest that turned violent.
Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmakers Nhay Chamreoun and Kong Sophea were dragged from their vehicles and assaulted by protesters as the two men attended a meeting of the legislature at the National Assembly building on the morning of Oct. 26.
The attack occurred as more than 1,000 supporters of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) surrounded the parliament building, calling for deputy president of the CNRP Kem Sokha to step down from his position as first vice president of the National Assembly.
On Wednesday, Hun Sen took to his official Facebook page to urge authorities to arrest the perpetrators of the attack.
“Today, I officially call on the authorities to seek the arrest of the culprits who committed violence against the two parliamentarians,” said Hun Sen, who the same day had returned to Cambodia from a state visit to France.
“We cannot tolerate those who committed the act, no matter who they are—be they CPP supporters, government supporters or opposition supporters! Anyone who commits such a cheap act must be arrested and sentenced at any cost.”
He noted that National Assembly president Heng Samrin had donated U.S. $10,000 to each of the two injured lawmakers to assist with their medical care and urged parliament to allocate funds for repairing their vehicles, which were damaged during the incident.
The attacks left Chamroeun with a double arm fracture, broken nose and chipped front teeth, while both men sustained significant facial injuries. The two lawmakers were flown to Thailand for medical treatment on Tuesday.
Although the anti-opposition protesters, who have been accused by the CNRP of being organized by the CPP, did not have official permission to rally, Hun Sen said that they were within their rights to make their voices heard and suggested the attack had occurred “after the demonstration was demobilized.”
He said that the incident had been precipitated by a number of factors, such as “cursing at each other, a love triangle [and] revenge,” without providing details, but added that nobody should be the target of violence, “specifically lawmakers who enjoy immunity.”
The CNRP has called the assaults a repetition of past violent incidents against other party members and suggested they were organized by the CPP in response to an anti-Hun Sen demonstration by Cambodian expatriates on Sunday in Paris, which infuriated the prime minister during his visit.
Before his departure to France, Hun Sen had warned his detractors that if Cambodian opposition supporters were to effectively hold their planned demonstration against him while he was in Paris, his supporters would attack and create trouble for Sam Rainsy's supporters back home.
The CPP has denied claims that it was behind the protest.
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