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Black Monday participants gather in the capital yesterday to call for the release of jailed rights workers and fellow activist Tep Vanny.
Black Monday participants gather in the capital yesterday to call for the release of jailed rights workers and fellow activist Tep Vanny. Pha Lina

Activists vow to press on with Black Monday

Forty Boeung Kak lake activists yesterday vowed to continue their Black Monday protests demanding the release of five jailed human rights officials and the dropping of charges against fellow activists in recently revived court cases.

Addressing reporters, land activist Bov Sophea said the government should dismiss the cases against her colleagues, adding the protests would continue until their demands were met.

“We beg the government to drop all charges against Tep Vanny and other Boeung Kak villagers,” she said. “Please drop them today; we just want happiness.”

Community leader Vanny is currently under pretrial detention for a 2013 protest mounted outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh, and is facing trial next month, along with three other land activists, for a separate protest at City Hall in 2011.

The activists yesterday held up pictures of US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, asking her to intervene in the arrests, as she had in 2012 when the “Boeung Kak 13” were arrested.

Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, who was observing the event, said the recent cases against the activists were the government’s way of intimidating them and deterring them from the weekly protests.

“Since the 2013 elections, we have seen the continued use of the courts to intimidate and stop land activists, environmental NGOs, the opposition and anybody else who speaks out or criticises the government,” she said.

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