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Three Opposition Activists Remain in Detention After July Violence

A man, with his hands painted with words that translate to "Release", demonstrate to demand the release of five opposition members of parliament, as police officers block a street near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in central Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 1

Rights groups are calling for the release of three opposition activists who have been held in detention since violent clashes with security forces in July.

The activists have been held despite a political deal last month between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, one that freed seven lawmakers and another supporter on bail. They too had been arrested following the July 15 clashes and are still facing charges of up to 30 years in prison for insurrection and incitement of violence.

On Wednesday, rights groups called for the release of the remaining detained activists.

“Khin Chamreun is married with two children, one girl aged six and one boy aged two,” the rights group Licadho said in a statement calling for their release. “San Kimheng is married with no children and lives with his wife and parents in Phnom Penh. Neang Sokhun is single and studies at the Wat Prek Eng Pagoda. His mother lives in Kampong Thom province.”

The three men are being held at CC1 prison and have been denied visitation by family members, Licadho said.

“This denial of the right to family visits appears to be nothing more than political retribution to further punish these men” said Licadho’s director, Naly Pilorge, said in a statement. “Cambodian authorities must acknowledge that family visits are not a privilege but a basic human right that must be available to all. We call on authorities to grant these men immediate access to their families and friends.”

Rights workers say the men are being held due to political differences between the ruling party and opposition and to push the Rescue Party to fully join National Assembly sessions.