Cambodian Government Makes Life Difficult For Opposition Party And Protesters

Activists in Cambodia have been urging the public to wear a black T-shirt every Monday since May 9, to support the release of human rights activists from the group ADHOC, who were jailed by the government.

The campaign is simply called “black Monday,” but the government calls it an “urban insurrection” and has treated it as such, using oppressive measures.

For instance, the government requires permission for people to protest by registering for a permit and protesters also have to get permission to post on social media such as Facebook, from the Cambodian government.

Radio Free Asia reports that authorities clashed with villagers in the capital of Phnom Penh on May 23, in the “Black Monday” campaign’s third week since the arrest.

Cambodian police continue to oppress protesters supporting human rights activists Police in protective gear block human rights activists during a candlelight vigil in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, May 23, 2016. Human rights activists on Monday held a candlelight vigil in protest of the government’s detainment of five local rights activists charged early this May on accusations of covering up a woman’s affair with a government official. [Image by Heng Sinith / AP Photo]It’s been reported that there were 100 villagers at Boeung Kak Lake, but that no arrests were made, nor was anyone injured as the police forces eventually withdrew, to monitor the protest from a distance.

The protesters had a display of lotus flowers and candles which were arranged to form the words “Free Human Rights Defenders.”

A month ago, authorities arrested four members of the ADHOC group and one election official and charged them with bribery over what they claim is their role in a sex scandal with the minority leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha.

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The Cambodian government majority are members of the rival right-wing Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), who hold more senate and house seats than the CNRP.

On Monday this week, the Associated Press reported that police prevented protesters from reaching the palace, but allowed opposition leaders from the CPP to pass and deliver a petition to the king, accusing the sitting Cambodian government of intimidation.

According to the report, critics say that Prime Minister Hun Sen is trying to cripple the CNRP before the 2018 general election, because they almost won in 2013, and would have if it wasn’t for what they feel was orchestrated electoral fraud.

Cambodian opposition party minority leader, being sought by Cambodian government for sex scandal In this April 8, 2015 file photo, Cambodia’s main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy (Former) President (CNRP) and National Assembly Deputy President Kem Sokha, center, speaks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Armed security forces raided the headquarters of Cambodia’s main opposition party and intercepted the car of its No. 2 leader Kem Thursday in an apparent attempt to apprehend him, but left empty handed after not finding him in either place, witnesses and officials said. As of June 4, 2016 The Cambodia Daily is reporting that a investigating judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has sent a summons to Kem Sokha to appear at the court, for not responding to the previous two summons sent to him. It’s suggested that the next step will be a warrant, unless it’s likely to encite violence. [Image by Heng Sinith / AP Photo]There are threats to the seat of the minority leader Kem Sokha’s seat in Parliament, as he apparently had the affair.

Evidence of this were found in recordings anonymously posted on Facebook of intimate phone calls, which under the rule of government, could not only result in his removal but his imprisonment as well.

Currently, the threat from the government is over the protesters getting permission to march, but the report also says that a National Assembly session which was being boycotted by the liberal CNRP party, voted to “endorse court orders allowing the arrest of Kem Sokha.”

The CPP has been the ruling party for over three decades and with the accusation of election fraud, they were boycotted by the CNRP, who also accused the CPP of political harassment when criminal cases were filed against them.

CNRP leaders send a letter to king for government oppression. Ho Vann, second right, a lawmaker of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), talks with police officers near the CNRP headquarters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, May 30, 2016. Police in Cambodia blocked an opposition protest march on Monday, but avoided violence by allowing a convoy of opposition lawmakers to drive through to present a petition complaining of government intimidation to the king. [Image by Heng Sinith / AP Photo]Sam Rainsy, who is a leader with the CNRP, has gone into self-imposed exile as to avoid detention since the government resurrected an old defamation case against him.

The situation caught the attention of the United Nations Human Rights organization, who issued a statement on May 12, urging the Cambodian authorities to ensure a safe and enabling environment for defenders of human rights and civil society.

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The U.N.’s official site published the statement, but on May 31, the spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary General, Stephane Dujarric, was asked about the situation on Cambodia during a press briefing.

“The Secretary-General is, indeed, concerned about the escalating tensions between the ruling and the opposition parties in Cambodia, particularly the arrests or attempted arrests of parliamentarians, who enjoy parliamentary immunity. A non-threatening environment of democratic dialogue is essential for political stability and a peaceful and prosperous society.”

This dialogue was reportedly the intention of the opposition-minority CNRP when they boycotted the CPP government during 2013-2014.

Corrections made [1:08 PM – 06-05-2016]

[Image by Heng Sinith/AP Photo]