A Kampong Speu resident was charged with “incitement” on Saturday by the Kratie Provincial Court over a video from 2013 of him singing a song criticising Prime Minister Hun Sen’s policies.
In the video, Huy Oudom, 29, accuses Hun Sen in song of giving away Cambodian land to the yuon – an often derogatory term used for people of Vietnamese descent – and for exploiting the natural resources of the country.
“He takes the power for only himself and is not fearful of the people, and this is too much. And you should stop doing this because you are born as Khmer but behave like a dog – a useless dog,” he sang.
Oudom was arrested on Friday in Kratie province and charged the next day under articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code, which both relate to “provocation to commit crimes”, by Kratie Provincial Investigating Judge Than Khung. He is currently being held in provincial prison.
While it is unclear why it took four years for the video to resurface, Om Phy, the deputy police chief for the province, said police only saw it last week.
“We arrested him after receiving information through Facebook [last week], and arrested him at his wife’s house, where he confessed to his crime,” Phy said on Sunday.
The deputy police chief said Oudom later apologised for his infraction and attributed his actions to his youth. His apology, also posted to Facebook, consisted of a song aimed at the opposition party. “I am very ashamed that I insulted uncle [Hun Sen], and the opposition party always incites [people] to insult uncle,” he sang.
Cambodia has seen a flurry of arrests related to social media posts – both by opposition members and private citizens. A 31-one-year-old woman named Mao Linda was arrested last month for calling the premier a “betrayer” online. Another woman, Sam Sokha, has been on the run from “incitement” charges after a video showed her throwing a sandal at a billboard featuring the face of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Political commentator Meas Nee called Oudom’s arrest another example of “systemic suppression” of the people, especially those expressing dissent online. He speculated that the ruling party’s strategy is to appear to allow dissent before finding an opportune time to arrest offenders. “This was not accidental. They keep watching and waiting,” he said. “They will let them do it and then take action against them.”