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Protesters Call for Release of Detained Rights Workers, Election Official

Protesters marched from the Ministry of Interior to the National Assembly to continue submitting their petition on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

Their arrest sparked a protest movement known as the Black Monday campaign.

Ahead of the first talks between Cambodia’s two major political parties expected later this month, protesters took to the streets to demand the release of four detained rights workers and an election official.

The demonstrators, largely drawn from the Boeung Kak lake area of the capital, handed in petitions to the National Assembly and Interior Ministry on Tuesday.

The leaders of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party are due to meet later this month for the first time since last year in a bid to end political tensions.

General Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said politicians could not interfere in the judicial process.

The rights workers, Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony of local NGO Adhoc, and a former National Election Committee official, Ny Chakrya, were detained in April on suspicion of offering a witness in a case against CNRP deputy leader Kem Sokha a bribe.

Their arrest sparked a protest movement known as the Black Monday campaign.

The mother of Tep Vanny, a prominent Boeung Kak activist jailed during the Black Monday protests, called for her release this week.

“They brought my daughter to jail and split her from her children and mom. They treated my family so bad,” Sy Heap said.

Leng Peng Long, National Assembly spokesman, said officials had received the petition and were considering forwarding it to government ministries.