An opposition commune representative, who spoke out about politically motivated harassment during a petition drive calling for the release of 29 men and women identified by a rights group as political prisoners, was arrested on Tuesday evening.
Doung Thon, 54, who was collecting thumbprints in Kampot’s Chhouk district to send to the King, was held overnight at Trapaing Phlaing commune police station. He was subsequently released from police custody yesterday evening after signing a contract drafted by police.
“They prohibited me from collecting thumbprints, and I signed an agreement to stop collecting. If I do it again, they will probably arrest me, so I will stop,” Thon said.
“For party affairs, they do not prohibit these, but said I must not go beyond the scope, such as wearing a black shirt [as part of ‘Black Monday’ protests].”
Kampot police chief Mao Chanmakthurith said the police took action because a few people had submitted a complaint, stating they were “forced” to give their thumbprints.
“There were people who came and asked them for a thumbprint . . . but when they returned home, their relatives asked about it and advised them not to give their thumbprint away like that,” he said. “Therefore, they got scared and they decided to file a complaint to police.”
But CNRP spokesperson Yim Sovann said the arrest was “politically motivated”.
“We do not force the people to do that [give their thumbprint],” he said. “We do it peacefully. We ask the people, anyone who loves justice, and now we are not allowed to. What kind of democratic country does this?”
Additional reporting by Erin Handley