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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Five activists arrested outside embassy

Five activists arrested outside embassy

Five Boeung Kak lake activists were arrested outside the French Embassy by plain-clothed and uniformed police officers this morning as they petitioned for the release of fellow activists taken into custody last week.

In the first test of the government’s tolerance for public assembly since last week’s brutal attacks on protesters, the activists were immediately arrested after arriving at the embassy at about 8.30am.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall has banned demonstrations in the lead-up to tomorrow’s commemoration of the toppling of the Khmer Rouge regime but is not clear why they arrested a group of people merely submitting a petition.

The Cambodian Center for Human rights confirmed Yorm Bopha, Tep Vanny, Phan Chhunreth, Song Srey Leap, and Bo Chhorvy, several of whom have previously been jailed by authorities, were all arrested.

Nay Vanda, deputy head of human rights monitoring and the legal aid section at rights group Adhoc, said the UNOHCHR had told him police were talking with the five and that they believed the group would be released this afternoon.

“As a human rights activists I strongly condemn the arrests, the illegal arrests and the illegal detention. I appeal to all victims of Cambodia to demand their rights…that they are losing,” he said.

“This is the time to stand up.”

As of yet, the UNOHCHR said they were unable to comment.

Rights groups and supporters of the activists gathered at Phnom Penh Municipal Police Headquarters afterward calling for their release but were told by a police officer the group had already been transferred to court.

Municipal Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said that the group had not requested permission for their activities and had just been arrested as a warning but could not confirm whether they would be released.

“They protested and marched in the street without permission from the authority and I am not sure when protesters will be allowed again. Based on a statement from the Ministry of Interior it will be allowed when the situation in Phnom Penh returns to normal,” he said.

Housing Rights Task Force director Sia Phearum said the group had been requesting the release of fellow Boeung Kak lake activist Chan Putisak and nine others arrested during a crackdown on demonstrations on Thursday.

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Mark Moorstein's picture

Watching this tyranny unfold from the US, I'm amazed that the Cambodian government and the world have forgotten the promises of the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991, signed by 21 countries and the UN. Not only did the agreements become the source of the constitution, which allegedly protects basic civil rights, such as free speech and assembly, but it promised free elections. The irony of the destruction of the Khmer Rouge 35 years ago is the destruction of democracy now and the trashing of the very principles the Vietnamese forces sought to establish by liberating Phnom Penh from an insane ideology. Not only does the CPP controlled government have an obligation to restore the civil rights of all people, whether they agree with its philosophy or not, but the 21 guarantors of the Paris Peace Agreements do as well. It is time for the international community to recognize that this sort of collapse of democracy cannot stand --- not only because of the havoc it wreaks on the Khmer people, but also on the rest of the world.

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