PHNOM PENH —
Twenty-one labor activists who have been detained in Kampong Cham province since their arrests in January were moved to the main prison outside Phnom Penh on Wednesday.
The detainees, who are accused of inciting violence in mass demonstrations, were moved in anticipation of a hearing at the municipal court on Friday.
Supporters say the 21 are being detained as a lesson to other would-be demonstrators, after a brutal crackdown on massive protests in January that left at least four people dead.
Supporters gathered outside Prey Sar prison on Wednesday, holding a Buddhist celebration to pray for the detainees’ release.
The trials have been divided into four cases, corresponding to locations where they were arrested: two in the Canadia Industrial Zone, one at the Stung Meanchey bridge, and one at the Yak Ching garment factory.
Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said he hopes all 21 will be set free, calling their case “political.”