BATTAMBANG CITY — The first three out of more than 20 former opposition members summoned for questioning arrived at the Battambang Provincial Court on Wednesday morning.
Former commune chiefs Ton Samorn and Roeun Kem and ex-commune councilor Sam Vong Dara entered the court in the early morning amid a wave of summonses that have been issued against former members of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) in Battambang province.
There has been little explanation for the summonses, which began to be issued last week and has raised concerns over judicial intimidation. The number of those summoned have steadily risen over the past few days, with sources saying the figure currently stood at 26.
More than 60 supporters were gathered outside the court at 8:30 a.m., with the crowd increasing through the morning. Local police have blocked the street, and monitors from the U.N. and local rights group were also present at the scene.
Two other former CNRP members are scheduled to be questioned in the afternoon.
The Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition CNRP in November 2017 and banned 118 of its senior officials from participating in politics.
The summoned Battambang members were local-level party officials, however, and not part of the 118-member blacklist.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning the summonses, and called on the ruling party to immediately cease its harassment of its political opposition.
“The Cambodian government continues to harass numerous opposition officials in the courts and to threaten them with prison time long after the main opposition party was unjustifiably disbanded,” said Brad Adams, the New York-based organization’s Asia director.
“The government should immediately end the political harassment campaign against the CNRP and drop this latest batch of absurd court cases.”