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Kampong Chhnang radio owner grilled over ‘inciting’ broadcast

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The suspect was arrested by Kampong Chhnang provincial police following the broadcast of a Facebook video. Supplied

Kampong Chhnang radio owner grilled over ‘inciting’ broadcast

The Ministry of Information revoked the licence of FM 99.75 and had its online radio station, Rittysen, owner Sok Uddom arrested by Kampong Chhnang provincial police following the broadcast of a Facebook video.

Police said Uddom was arrested based on comments he made during a land conflict protest by villagers.

Deputy provincial police chief Ea Bunthoeun told The Post on Thursday that Uddom was arrested on Wednesday night and was still being questioned by police on Thursday.

Bunthoeun said his arrest is connected to a broadcast of a land conflict protest at the border between Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu province. During the broadcast he incited people to encroach on state land, Bunthoeun said.

“Until now we have not finished questioning him at the provincial police headquarters. We haven’t decided what to charge him with or where to send him to next. The arrest was made because he encouraged the protestors,” Bunthoeun said.

Uddom posted the live broadcast on Tuesday of a protest involving about 100 families in Chieb commune, Teuk Phos district.

He allegedly made comments on behalf of the people who were arguing with a group of soldiers and provincial officials. The people had accused officials of taking over their land.

Uddom spoke for about 40 minutes during the video clip. At one point, he says: “The Kampong Chhnang provincial governor held a meeting and decided to take the land from the people and accused the people of encroaching on state land.

“So they decided to take all land except property with land titles. My question is, from where the people can get a title?

“In Chieb village, villagers haven’t measured their land. So, is it a pity for them? We hope the government will hear our problem, especially that Samdech [Hun Sun] will know this information and send inspectors to study whether the land should be taken or given to the people who rely on it.”

Uddom also allegedly accused provincial authorities and the military of taking the land from the people to sell it off.

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on Wednesday revoked Uddom’s FM 99.75 licence.

Kanharith said the decision came after the owner of the radio station and website exaggerated the truth, incited violence, and caused insecurity and chaos in society, which violates the professional standards outlined in the Ministry of Information contract.

Sam Chankea, a member of the rights group Adhoc in Kampong Chhnang province, said Uddom’s arrest was made too quickly and without a thorough investigation of the case and without using the press laws. He says the arrest is a threat to press freedom in Cambodia.

“We have requested the government review this case because Cambodia has pledged to improve human rights and is committed to preventing human rights violations.

“If there is a complaint that the journalist was wrong and didn’t show professionalism, they should inspect first to see whether he should be fined. But in this case, nothing apart from a quick decision was made,” Chankea said.

He said Adhoc will follow the case and will retain a lawyer to defend Uddom in court.

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