Tbong Khmum CNRP Activist Charged After Organizing to Join Rally

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A T-shirt worn by five people arrested in Tbong Khmum province on October 3, 2020, which reads, “Thank you for peace, but respect Article 2 of the Constitution.”

An activist for the banned CNRP has been charged with incitement and will be jailed, a police spokesperson said on Friday, after he spoke to others in Tbong Khmum province about joining the party’s Paris Peace Agreements protest in Phnom Penh, according to fellow opposition supporters.

A CNRP senior leader living overseas earlier said there would be as many as 300 protesters on Friday in the capital, but only about 15 people joined a rally near the Chinese Embassy in the morning, and about 60 people participated later at the French and U.S. embassies.

The party had called for the protest to mark the anniversary of the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, which formally ended years of conflict and laid out principles of multiparty democracy for Cambodia.

Su Yean, 45, had been planning to bring protesters with him to Phnom Penh, a former CNRP district councilor in Tbong Khmum told VOD on Thursday.

Veasna, 30, another opposition supporter from the province who joined Friday’s rallies in Phnom Penh but did not give his full name, said Yean had “just talked” with others about participating in the protest.

“It’s not a crime that harms national security unless he wanted to topple this or that person or attack this or that person or destroy national property — that would be harming national security,” he said.

Veasna added that the ongoing arrests and imprisonment of CNRP activists in the province hurt their spirit.

Seven former CNRP officials were sentenced for “plotting” last month. The former local politicians lost their positions when the CNRP was outlawed by the Supreme Court in 2017 amid a crackdown on the political opposition, civil society and independent media.

Three others were questioned by police earlier this month for wearing T-shirts distributed by Yean that said “Thank you for peace, but respect Article 2 of the Constitution,” a reference to Cambodia’s sensitive border issues.

Yean’s wife, Srey Seath, said her husband’s arrest was hard to talk about. “These are clumsy charges,” she said. “He was just a minor person.”

National police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told VOD on Friday that Yean had been charged with incitement to disturb social security after he was caught “red-handed.”

Yean would be sent to prison once the court finished its procedures, Kim Khoeun said.

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