Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Acting head of IDEA released

Acting head of IDEA released

Men detained by military police sit with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard
Men detained by military police sit with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard earlier this month. RFA

Acting head of IDEA released

Police yesterday morning released a union leader arrested on Sunday for leading a demonstration, as watchdogs questioned the legality of the protest ban that led to the arrest.

Sok Chhun Oeung, acting president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) walked out of Phnom Penh Municipal Police Department at about 10am after signing a contract agreeing not to lead or participate in future demonstrations and notify police of any illegal activity of which he becomes aware, Oeung told the <>Post shortly after his release.

“The authorities who arrested me violated the constitutional law of Cambodia,” he said. “This action is a violation of human rights as well.”

But according to Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche, authorities did not arrest Oeung – they invited him to the police station.

“We invited him so he could learn about how to follow the law,” said Dimanche, who noted that Oeung did not have authorisation to hold his planned vigil. Authorities released him, Dimanche said, because his offence was not very severe.

Public gatherings were banned in the wake of demonstrations on January 2 and 3 supporting a garment workers’ strike that turned violent, culminating with soldiers opening fire into a crowd of demonstrators and killing at least four.

Oeung was arrested on Sunday, after he led fellow IDEA members to Phnom Penh’s Riverside across from the Royal Palace, and attempted to hold a vigil honouring the 23 men arrested during the demonstrations earlier this month. The 23 detainees – including IDEA president Vorn Pov, for whom Oeung is standing in – remain at Correctional Centre 3 (CC3) in Kampong Cham.

“The arrest shows the government is going to be very, very strict in enforcing the ban on public demonstration,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. “The problem is the ban in unconstitutional.… You can’t just ban public demonstrations without first declaring a state of emergency.”

A statement released by UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia Surya Subedi last week says such a ban is only legal under international standards if a state of public emergency that “threaten the life of a nation” is declared.

As Oeung left the police station – where he was detained in an office, not a cell – 14 IDEA members were in Kampong Cham, where authorities at CC3 allowed them to see Pov and the 22 other detainees.

After visiting Pov, Long Vuthy, who noted the beating Pov received during and after his arrest exacerbated a kidney problem, said the IDEA president seemed in rough shape.

“Pov’s health is still weak and his face was pale,” Vuthy said. “It seems likes he is suffering from his kidney wound.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

    The Ministry of Health has decided to lift the ban on travellers from or who have travelled through 10 African countries and instead issued a set of standard operating procedures to manage passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s international airports. The 10 African countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho,

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group