Rapper, TikTok User Arrested for Airing Critical Views

2 min read
Rapper Kea Sokun. (Sokun Club)
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A young rapper and a TikTok broadcaster have been arrested over videos that Cambodian authorities deemed to have the potential to cause chaos in society.

Nhel Thearyna, a TikTok user with more than 100,000 followers, was arrested on Tuesday afternoon over a video in which he claims Angkor Wat doesn’t belong to Cambodia, Tbong Khmum provincial police chief Pen Rath said.

“Why does everyone love posting about Angkor Wat temple?” Thearyna asks in the video, which has since been deleted. “Everyone loves posting Angkor Wat, as if Angkor Wat belongs to Cambodians. In fact it does not belong to Cambodians, so don’t post it. If you can stop, please stop.”

Rath said on Wednesday that Thearyna was being questioned by police and would be sent to court alongside the confession he had given to officers.

Thearyna’s video was immature, thoughtless and a crime, he said.

“It causes chaos in society. There can be many problems if we do not take action,” Rath said. “Firstly the authorities will receive the blame from the public, and, secondly, other youths and other people could harm or mistreat or beat him.”

A Tbong Khmum court order issued on Wednesday said Thearyna, 22, had been charged with incitement to disturb social security and incitement to discriminate, and placed in pretrial detention at the provincial prison.

Meanwhile, young rapper Kea Sokun, 22, was charged with incitement after his arrest on Friday, Siem Reap Provincial Court spokesperson Yin Srang said.

Sokun’s father Phal Kea, told VOD that Sokun had been arrested in relation to his rap song “Dey Khmer,” or Khmer Land.

The song, posted to YouTube in April, has been watched more than 270,000 times.

“If we run out of land, there is nothing left,” Sokun raps. “Listen to me calmly: Wake up, we are heroes, handcuffed to catch thieves. Destroy the exploiters, put them in jail and lock them up. Take our freedom. Don’t be afraid, do not panic.”

Kea said his son, who dropped out of school in the ninth grade, had written the song himself without any influence from political parties.

He had spoken to his son about the police questioning, which focused on who was behind the song, Kea said.

“He said they only asked about the song, who was behind it … which party do you belong to, and which party does it belong to,” Kea said.

Licadho monitoring manager Am Sam Ath said Sokun’s detention came amid a wave of arrests against young activists that could be considered violations of free expression.

“I don’t think anyone should detain him for the song, because this is a work of art,” Sam Ath said.

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

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