Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sam Rainsy at Freedom Park

The CNRP (Cambodia National Rescue Party) held a large gathering today at the Freedom Park in Phnom Penh with Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha in attendance. This was the largest gathering of the CNRP in Phnom Penh since the pre-election campaign period. In the lead up to the gathering it was variously referred to as a meeting, a rally, a gathering to express gratitude and a protest by various sources. At least some of the international press seems to have settled on the word 'protest,' but to me it felt far less like a protest than a rally of sorts, with an atmosphere akin to a campaign event. Though there was plenty of party regalia in evidence (flags, stickers, hats, etc.) there were no protest chants, signs or placards. Both Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha spoke, thanking their supporters and making various points about the party platform, the election, the alleged election irregularities, and the party's complaints, intentions and plans for protests, etc. Articles in the international press (link, link, link) have done a better job of explaining what was said than I could do here. Reported estimates of the crowd size varies between varies between 5000 and 15,000. It would be difficult for me to give an accurate estimate from my vantage within the crowd, but it was likely closer to the middle/upper end of the reported estimates. The atmosphere, like all CNRP events that I have attended to date, was happy, positive and energetic, though perhaps somewhat less exuberant than the campaign period.     

Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha arrive at the rally.

 Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy

 The crowd

At the back of the crowd

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