Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Union leader released

Union leader released

Sok Chhan Oeung
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association vice-president Sok Chhan Oeung is arrested by police yesterday. Vireak Mai

Union leader released

Phnom Penh Municipal Police this morning released a union leader they scooped off the street yesterday evening for allegedly leading a protest despite a ban on public demonstrations.

Sok Chhun Oeung, acting president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), left the police station at about 10am, after signing a contract promising he would not incite or participate in demonstrations and report to police any illegal activity of which he becomes aware, Oeung told the Post this morning.

“The authorities who arrested me violated the constitutional law of Cambodia,” Oeung said in a phone interview. “This action is a violation of human rights, as well.”

Oeung’s arrest at about 5:30pm yesterday occurred as IDEA members attempted to hold a vigil for 23 people – including IDEA’s president, Vorn Pov - who were arrested in demonstrations supporting a garment worker strike on January 2 and 3. Oeung, IDEA’s vice president, has served as acting president since Pov’s arrest.

IDEA members originally intended to hold a prayer vigil at Wat Ounalom, where they would pray for their comrades still detained at Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham and release balloons.

But when they arrived at the pagoda, security guards armed with batons and wearing black motorcycle helmets pushed people in front of the pagoda, clearing the entrance.

As Oeung got on a motorbike to move the vigil to the riverside area across from the Royal Palace, Daun Penh district deputy governor Sok Penh Vuth shouted at him that he would order Oeung’s arrest if the small demonstration continued.

After security guards scuffled with the small group of demonstrators, two pickup trucks filled with riot police pulled up at the scene.

Police grabbed Oeung, put him into one of the trucks and took him to Phnom Penh Municipal Police Department.
Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak said this morning that Oeung’s arrest in the first place was unconstitutional, since the ban on public demonstrations violates the constitution.

“The problem is the ban is unconstitutional,” Virak said. “You can’t just ban public demonstrations without first declaring a state of emergency.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the