As lawyers for 21 defendants denied bail by the Court of Appeal last week wait for the Supreme Court to respond to their appeals, the most high-profile of the detainees is speaking out via social media.
On Friday night, Prak Sovannary, wife of Vorn Pov – president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) – posted to her Facebook account an open letter Pov allegedly wrote from prison to his supporters.
“I know that everyone has been working day and night to secure our freedom,” the letter, which appears to be signed by Pov, reads. “Many scars and wounds are on my body, creating a lot of pain, but this will not bother or depress me . . . I hope one day in the near future, we will receive our freedom back.”
Pov was one of 10 people arrested in front of Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc during a January 2 rally supporting a nationwide garment worker strike.
In an email yesterday, a spokesperson said Yakjin never filed a court complaint against the 10 arrested there.
In addition to the Yakjin arrests, authorities took 13 others into custody the next day during a demonstration near Canadia Industrial Park, where protesters threw rocks and set fires and authorities opened fire on Veng Sreng Boulevard, killing at least four and injuring dozens.
Two of the 23 were released on bail on February 8.
Following the Appeal Court’s denial of a bail request for the remaining 21 detainees last Tuesday, attorneys representing them filed a complaint with the Supreme Court, said Chhumly Chhay, a coordinator with the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, one of several organisations providing legal representation for the defendants.
Supreme Court officials typically take around a month to respond to bail appeals, said Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DANIEL PYE