Cambodia’s “Black Monday” protest campaign restarted this week after it was put on hold for two weeks as it appeared the government was preparing to release jailed activists and an election commission official.
When the release of the “Kem Sokha Five” and land-rights activist Tep Vanny failed to materialize, Black Monday organizers resumed their protests on Jan. 9.
Activists wearing black have demonstrated for 36 Mondays in an effort to win the release of four human rights workers and an election official who were jailed on charges widely seen as attempts to muzzle the political opponents of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Lim Mony, Nay Vanda, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, all workers for ADHOC (the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association), and National Election Commission (NEC) deputy secretary-general Ny Chakrya were arrested in April.
They are accused of attempting to pay hush money to opposition leader Kem Sokha’s purported mistress in the government’s wide-ranging probe into the alleged affair.
Kem Sokha received a royal pardon in December at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen for charged related to the government investigation. His pardon and that of a local Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) official raised hope that the others would go free.
That hope appeared to be dashed, however, when negotiations broke down after Kem Sokha refused to make a statement endorsed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) denouncing anyone who made derogatory statements related to the paternity of Hun Sen’s eldest son, sources have told RFA.
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Reported by Samnang Rann for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.
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