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Rights Groups Condemn Arrests of Workers

Security officers try to beat Buddhist monks who took part in a rally of the Cambodian National Rescue Party in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.
A coalition of 65 local and international organizations has condemned the deadly crackdowns on protesters earlier this month.

“We strongly condemn the use of brutally excessive force, arbitrary arrests, killings and inhumane treatment by the Cambodian authorities,” the coalition said in a joint statement Monday.

The coalition includes rights groups like Adhoc and other development organizations, such as Transparency International and Oxfam America.

Crackdowns on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 left five people dead, 40 injured and 23 arrested. The coalition called for the unconditional release of the detainees, adding to mounting criticism of the arrests.

“Power abuse by security forces and the military cannot escape the law,” Yeng Virak, executive director of the Cambodian Legal Education Center, told reporters Monday. “Our legal team is assisting victims to file complaints as civil parties, including families of the injured and the killed.”

A government spokesman told VOA Khmer that the authorities have created three separate committees to investigate the crackdown, while a police spokesman said the detentions were a matter for the courts.

Beginning a five-day visit in the wake of the crackdown, the UN’s special human rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, said Monday he hoped to discuss the possibility of release in meetings with government officials.