PHNOM PENH —
Activists from Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake area who organized the so-called ‘Black Monday’ protests last year have said they will restart the banned marches following a court decision not to release several jailed rights workers.
The campaign was launched 36 weeks ago with the aim of putting pressure on the government to release four staff members of local rights group Adhoc and an election official who were arrested and put in pre-trial detention in May.
The group is being investigated for allegedly bribing a witness in a high-profile Anti-Corruption Unit case against the deputy leader of the opposition, Kem Sokha, who is accused of having an extra-marital affair.
Song Sreyleap, a Boeung Kak activist, said the announcement last week from Interior Minister Sar Kheng that the detainees would not be freed by the end of 2016 had motivated them to renew the protests. “It was such a big disappointment,” she said.
Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said the protests would not be sanctioned by the government and that only the courts could decide the fate of the detained.
He added that Kheng was due to meet Sokha in the coming days.
“I think that the meeting will come up with some solutions to tackle the remaining issues,” he said.
Research by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights suggests Black Monday activists were arrested 33 times last year.