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Group petitions UNOHCHR for release of union leader

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Protesters advocated for the release of Rong Chhun on Monday outside the UNOHCHR headquarters. The group also attempted to send a petition to the Japanese embassy. Hean Rangsey

Group petitions UNOHCHR for release of union leader

Representatives of student federations, trade union confederations, youths and over 20 human rights activists sent a petition to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) on Monday seeking the release union leader Rong Chhun and his detained supporters.

The group also attempted to send a petition to the Japanese embassy but were interrupted by police officers.

Rong Vann, 22, the nephew of Rong Chhun who signed the petition, told The Post that police prevented the group from making their way to the embassy after they had sent the petition to the UNOHCHR.

“We submitted the petition at the UNOHCHR office successfully with a warm welcome. They promised to help us address this issue,” he said.

Vann said the petitioners did not have the strength to resist or push with the authorities for fears of violence, so they decided to disband. But the protesters plan on submitting the petition to the Japanese embassy at a later date.

The petition calls for the international community to intervene for the release of Chhun, who was arrested on the night of July 31 in connection with the Cambodia-Vietnam border issue. Chhun was placed in pre-trial detention at the Prey Sar prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 1 on charges of “incitement to commit a felony or cause social unrest”.

Representatives on the petition included the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA), Khmer Youths, Love Environment and Society Association, Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) and Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC).

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin told The Post on Sunday that expressing wrong opinions about border-related issues with the intent to incite chaos can cause social disorder and damage national security.

He said the border issue is complicated and exaggerating the issue could cause a great disaster for the country. Prevention measures, therefore, must be very serious to protect national security, he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen recently warned against exaggerating about the Cambodia-Vietnam border at the grand opening of the Garden City Water Park in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district.

“The border is not a funny thing. Don’t incite, because that can cause disputes with neighbouring countries by pointing to these places or those places,” he said.

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