Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man arrested on wedding day for criticising government on Facebook

Man arrested on wedding day for criticising government on Facebook

San Rotha, 29, is seen in a video posted to Facebook in which he calls the government ‘authoritarian’. He was arrested over the video on Thursday in Kampong Cham. Facebook
San Rotha, 29, is seen in a video posted to Facebook in which he calls the government ‘authoritarian’. He was arrested over the video on Thursday in Kampong Cham. Facebook

Man arrested on wedding day for criticising government on Facebook

A 29-year-old man from Kampong Cham was interrogated yesterday following his arrest last week – on his wedding day – for calling the Cambodian government “authoritarian” in a video clip posted to Facebook.

The arrest is just the latest involving online dissent, with human rights groups saying free speech is now “under daily threat” by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Mean Prom Mony, provincial investigator with Adhoc in Kampong Cham, said San Rotha was arrested by provincial Military Police on February 8 over a warrant accusing him of “public insult of the leader and public defamation”, adding that Rotha’s arrest took place at 7am while he was taking a shower before getting married in Poipet.

Prom Mony added that Rotha was interrogated by a prosecutor on Saturday and Sunday, as well as by a judge on Sunday.

Huot Vuthy, spokesman for the Kampong Cham Provincial Court, said Rotha was not only being questioned for alleged public insult, but for incitement as well, though he wasn’t able to specific the charges.

“We are interrogating [him] and I don’t know whether [the case] will be dismissed or not,” he said.

While the original Facebook post couldn’t be located on Rotha’s profile yesterday, the video clip was widely shared in October, just a month before the Cambodia National Rescue Party – the country’s only viable opposition in this year’s scheduled national election – was forcibly dissolved at the government’s behest.

“I want to inform the people and people supporting [the] CNRP to stand up again, and please do not be scared by all the actions and intimidations of some authoritarians,” Rotha says in the clip. “If you do not stand up and unite together, we will not get loose from the devil’s hand.”

He goes on to say that “corruption cannot win over the people’s solidarity power”.

“We know already that the authoritarian people [want] to gain victory, they use all the strategies and mind games, and they try to act in all forms to undermine the CNRP supporters’ mind,” he says.

Keo Oun, Rotha’s sister-in-law, said Rotha had recently returned from working in Thailand and was getting ready to get married when he was taken by Military Police.

“The Military Police forces handcuffed [him] and [took] him into the vehicle, and his mother was crying,” she said. “The Military Police said that they would just educate him and would release him six months later because he apologised and promised to stop playing on Facebook.”

Phil Roberston, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said “freedom of expression is now under daily threat by Hun Sen and his minions”.

“Pro-government trolls are especially on the look out for critical commentary on Facebook and other online forums because that is the one source of information that the government can’t fully control,” he wrote in an email, calling on the international community to “publicly denounce these tactics” and decline to recognise this year’s election “charade”.

Paul Chambers, a lecturer at Naresuan University in Thailand, said for years the Cambodian government has made threats against government critics who use social media or other means to express their opinions, “but since last year, astride intensifying authoritarianism, Cambodia has entered a growing climate of fear”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with