Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kem Sokha banner row rolls on, with some removed

Kem Sokha banner row rolls on, with some removed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Banners calling for the release of jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha are unveiled at CNRP headquarters in Phnom Penh last week. Similar banners in Kampot province were allegedly removed by authorities yesterday in Kampot province. Heng Chivoan

Kem Sokha banner row rolls on, with some removed

Just two days after they first went up, some of the Cambodia National Rescue Party banners demanding the release of jailed party leader Kem Sokha are already coming down amid government objections.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak yesterday endorsed the removal of the banners – which were installed in every province on Monday – maintaining they “affect order in society”.

“If 10,000 people are jailed, will they put up banners for those 10,000? The law doesn’t allow it,” he insisted, without specifying which law he was citing. “If they don’t [take them down], we’ll do it.”

CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua said the signs didn’t breach any element of the Criminal Code. “We will take nothing down till we receive [a Ministry of Interior] letter [with a] legitimate reason citing a law,” she said in a message.

However, Iem Ouen, deputy chief of Ratanakkiri province’s CNRP executive committee, said the party had already taken a banner there down after being approached by authorities. “My sister . . . was questioned by provincial authorities whether the installation of the banner was done with permission,” he said. “We decided to take it down because we thought that even if we ask for permission, they won’t allow it.”

But Sochua maintained the party didn’t need permission, and would replace the banner.

In Kampot, an unknown person removed one of the banners on Monday, according to CNRP provincial executive committee head Sam Chakrya.

The Interior Ministry’s Sopheak claimed the banners showed the party’s intent to overthrow the government via “colour revolution” – a term for popular protest movements that have brought down authoritarian regimes in the past.

“They gradually collect support, and when people get to 40,000 or 50,000, they’ll do it like in 2013,” he said, referring to opposition demonstrations calling for an investigation into election irregularities. “We knew that, and cracked down on the 3rd and 4th” of January 2014.

On those days, government forces opened fire into a crowd of unruly wage protesters, killing five, then violently evicted a peaceful opposition sit-in at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park.

Cambodian Center for Human Rights Director Chak Sopheap said in an email that authorities’ increasingly common references to colour revolutions were being “used as a pretext to silence any dissenting voice”.

Additional reporting by Mech Dara

MOST VIEWED

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Time to avert disastrous Covid situation: officials

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is heading towards further large-scale community transmission as the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 61,000 and the death toll passed 900 on July 10, senior health officials warned. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concern that the country was going

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided