Indigenous Jarai people from Ratanakkiri province who attended the opposition’s mass protests in the capital in recent weeks have had their names taken by provincial police, raising concerns that they could face threats and intimidation.
The names of 81 pro-Cambodia National Rescue Party Jarai from O’Yadav, Kounmom and Andong Meas districts who had attended the daily demonstrations in Phnom Penh for the past two weeks had their names recorded on Sunday, Sen Voeurn, deputy police chief of O’Yadav district’s Yatung commune, confirmed yesterday.
But Voeurn claimed it was a benign administrative formality intended to record who was coming in and out of the villages.
“We just want to know when our villagers leave and enter the village,” he said. “They do not tell us. This is our measure, and is not involved with their protest.”
But Romas Svang, a 47-year-old ethnic Jarai and CNRP member in Yatung, said the recording of opposition supporters among the Jarai was an attempt to intimidate them.
“This is a form of … intimidation on us who protest against the government, for a re-election and the resignation of the prime minister,” he said.
“However, we do not feel scared. If we do not protest for change, who will do it for us and who will help us?” he asked.
Pouy Nhor, a villager in Yatung, said that a local police officer named Poy Fen had collected the names.
“Many villagers went to protest in Phnom Penh, and after knowing this, Mr Fen asked for their names. [The police] did that just to threaten us, and this is a violation of our human rights. We have the right to protest,” Nhor said.
The case was reported to the provincial Adhoc office yesterday, CNRP member Svang added.
Chhay Thy, Ratanakkiri coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that the police had violated the constitutional rights of the villagers.
“Our constitution says that every citizen has full rights and freedom to travel anywhere and they have the right to protest,” he said.
Thy added that he plans to investigate the case next week and send a letter of complaint to the provincial police, asking for the recording of protesters names to be stopped.