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Activists Deliver Petitions for Release of Detainees

A worker who had been taking part in a protest is escorted by Cambodian soldiers after clashes broke out, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh January 2, 2014. Cambodian soldiers on Thursday broke up the protest by factory workers on strike, who were demanding a doubling of their wages, witnesses and a rights worker said. Around 100 soldiers with riot gear from a nearby base were deployed to move the workers who had been protesting outside their factory about 20km (12 miles) west of the capital Phnom Penh.
A small group of around 70 housing rights protesters marched to six embassies in Phnom Penh on Friday, petitioning for the release of 23 people detained in violent crackdowns earlier this month.

Demonstrators brought the petition to the embassies of the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, and South Korea, as well as the offices of the European Union and the World Bank.

The detainees were those caught up in violent crackdowns on labor and opposition protests earlier this month, who are being held in a remote facility near the Vietnam border.

Tep Vanny, a land activist and protest leader, said she hoped the international community would “put pressure on this illegitimate government to release the 23 detainees, because those countries are advanced democratically, and respect human rights.”

“Therefore, to be a model for this country, they must demand their release,” she said.

The demonstrations went peacefully Friday, and representatives from each embassy and agency accepted the petitions without incident.

Police maintain they were lawfully breaking up violent protests, and that the fate of the detainees is now up to the courts and the justice system.

Critics say the protesters are being held far from supporters, lawyers, family and rights workers and should be released.