A first-year university student arrested for calling for a “colour revolution” on Facebook says he did not intend for his message to incite a government overthrow and wants to be released from prison to continue his studies.
Kong Raiya, 25, yesterday spoke to the Post at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after his scheduled questioning was delayed because his lawyer was absent.
The seventh child in a family of nine, Raiya was arrested on August 20 outside Khemarak University, where he studies political science.
He has been charged with incitement and faces up to two years in prison for allegedly posting a Facebook comment daring people to “launch the colour revolution” in order to “change the cheap regime running Cambodian society”.
Yesterday, prior to returning to Prey Sar prison, he acknowledged he had made the post on his personal account but said it was merely “personal expression” and not intended to topple the government.
“I have only expressed my own opinions and ideas, which are guaranteed by the Cambodian Constitution. I did not break the law,” Raiya, also a member of the Khmer Angkor Youth, said.
Further explaining the term “colour revolution”, he said: “I wanted to refer to a non-violent strike, the gathering or meeting of people to hold a non-violent demonstration or strike.
“I had no intention to incite people against the government,” Raiya said. He also said that he felt his arrest set a precedent to crack down on non-violent demonstrators.
“I think that if the royal government and the court can arrest and sentence me over allegations of using these words of colour revolution, they will also arrest all people who have held non-violent protests or non-violent demonstrations and send them to court for trial, too,” he said.
He said he had asked the investigating judge to release him.
Raiya’s father, 67-year-old Kang Kong of Kampong Cham province’s Kong Meas district, also appealed for his son’s release.
“My son is a good son; he is gentle, diligent and works hard to learn,” Kong said.
“He is a nationalist and loves his country and people. He has only expressed his opinion on his Facebook.”
Raiya’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said he would submit a bail application next week.
He said his client was an easy target as a poor and politically unconnected student.