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Ministry: No unlawful protests

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Protesters gather to demand the release of union leader Rong Chhun and other activists in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district on Monday. Facebook

Ministry: No unlawful protests

The Ministry of Interior is warning citizens not to take part in social justice protests.

It issued a press release on Monday saying members of the groups Khmer Thavrak and Mother Nature Movement had been carrying out activities not registered at the ministry, which is required by the Law on Associations and NGOs (Lango).

The ministry said the members had been carrying out activities intended to incite others and affect stability, security, public order and cause social chaos.

They used social and traditional media to spread texts, leaflets, pictures, videos and even held a demonstration illegally, according to the release.

“[The Ministry of Interior] would like to call on citizens not to take part in illegal activities of these groups. The ministry would like the relevant authorities to take legal action to maintain public order and national security,” the press release said.

The ministry also requested police to stop activities that cause social chaos when the Cambodian people are preparing to mark the 15-day P’chum Ben festival.

Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on Tuesday.

Rhona Smith, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia expressed concern about arrests in relation to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

“I am concerned by the recent reports regarding the arrests of three environmental activists who have now been charged with ‘incitement to commit a felony and create chaos in society’ under Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code.

“A number of other individuals, including a monk, have been arrested and detained since Friday of last week,” she said.

Smith said the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are protected by international human rights norms and standards as well as the Cambodian Constitution.

“I encourage the Cambodian authorities to ensure these rights are respected and protected and to create an environment in which individuals are able to exercise these rights.

“I urge that those arrested be promptly brought before a court of law and their due process rights are fully respected. I am following these events closely,” she said.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told The Post on Monday the Phnom Penh municipal police had arrested and charged five people on Sunday and Monday with incitement to cause social chaos.

The five are Kong Sam An, Mean Prommony, Keurt Saray, Tha Lavy and Eng Malai, also known as So Meth.

The arrests came after they announced they would hold non-violent demonstrations demanding social justice from September 7-15 at Freedom Park.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall notified them that protests are not allowed.

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