Police Arrest Politician Over Support for Border Comments

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Khmer Win Party president Soung Sophorn speaks to reporters at a rally in support of unionist Rong Chhun outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 13, 2020. (Khan Leakhena/VOD)
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Police on Friday arrested a minor party president over “exaggerations” related to a detained unionist’s comments on border demarcations, at least the 12th arrest made over the past two weeks in relation to the controversy.

Suong Sophorn, president of the minor Khmer Win Party, was arrested in Tuol Kork district around 1 p.m. and was being held at the Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters, according to Phnom Penh police spokesperson San Sok Seyha.

Sok Seyha said the arrest was for the “red-handed” crime of Sophorn making exaggerations about the border issue, but did not elaborate.

Earlier this month, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun was arrested after saying in an interview with U.S.-run Radio Free Asia that Cambodia was losing hundreds of hectares of land to Vietnam as part of border demarcations, wading into a controversial subject that has been used in the past by opposition politicians to drum up populist support.

Chhun’s arrest sparked protests and criticism from rights groups, and four opposition activists were arrested last week following their repeated participation in demonstrations, while six youth activists were arrested on Thursday after another rally for Chhun outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Sophorn, the minor party leader, also attended Thursday’s rally.

The municipal police’s Sok Seyha said around 5 p.m. that two of the six youth activists, Chhoeun Daravy and Hun Vannak, had been sent to the court for processing. Daravy was charged by the court with incitement to disturb social security, while Vannak was provisionally charged by police prosecutors for the same crime, he said.

The other four were released from police custody late on Friday after signing a contract agreeing to stop protesting, the spokesperson said later.

A judge ordered Vannak and Daravy provisionally detained in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, he added.

Sophorn visited the border area in question in Tbong Khmum province’s Ponhea Krek district on August 10, and posted a live video commentary on Facebook discussing alleged irregularities.

Earlier this week, he also clashed with City Hall after requesting permission to hold a rally in support of Chhun, according to the Khmer Times.

Additional reporting by Pech Sotheary

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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