Interior Minister Sar Kheng has called on authorities to avoid using violence against peaceful protesters, warning it is not a solution and will only cause global criticism.
The call came during a groundbreaking ceremony of the Tboung Khmum provincial police headquarters building today.
“When officials manage protests, we have to take a firm but measured stance. We cannot use violence. If it is a war, it is another matter but there has to be an understanding that peaceful protests are the peoples’ right,” he said. “The people are protesting against injustice. All officials should, therefore, acknowledge and respect the people’s right to protest.
Transparency and justice are the tools to prevent a colour revolution,” Kheng said. He also said that authorities must strive to serve the people.
“Authorities should fulfil the needs of the people, because government officials are the servants of the people,” he said. “If we use violence, it will not bring about a solution to the problem. The violence inflicted on protesters along the capital’s Veng Sreng Boulevard in 2014 did not solve the issue, instead, it stuck in people’s minds,” Kheng said.
On January 3, 2014, police clashed with garment workers who were protesting along the boulevard to demand a minimum wage hike from $80 to $95.
Five people died and 27 others were hurt. Kheng said the government absolutely opposes a colour revolution, but insisting that suppressing the movement cannot be done by using guns and violence.
“We have to treat the people with respect and goodwill. That is the biggest weapon to curb the colour revolution,” he said. “If authorities use their power to encroach on land, violate rights and the interests of the people, the people are within their rights to protest against it,” he said.