Three Christian ethnic Jarai men on the way home from a prayer group were temporarily detained and questioned by suspicious police officers in Ratanakkiri on Friday.
The Christians said that Andong Meas district police armed with AK-47s stopped their motorbike, ordered them to the police station and confiscated their backpacks.
Police allegedly grilled them about their activities at the prayer group, asked if they were collecting thumbprints for the opposition or taking pictures to send to contacts in the US.
Their iPads were searched and they were forced to delete 10 photos of the prayer meeting, which was attended by some 300 Jarai people.
“I was afraid for my life,” said Sal Pini, one of the three men. “Police treated us like criminals.”
According to them, police officers told them that the “political situation is not so good” before making them delete the photos, which the officers feared would incite other youth to unspecified undesirable behaviour.
Sovan Thin, the district police chief, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Uy Bul, deputy police chief, confirmed that police questioned and released the trio after finding they had done nothing wrong.
He declined to comment further, and referred questions to another deputy, Lak Vannarith, who declined to comment.
Bakeo district police broke up a gathering of 50 Christians earlier this month, saying that they had not asked permission for the gathering.