Tbong Khmum CNRP Protester Arrested in Phnom Penh

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Supporters of jailed CNRP activists protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on October 9, 2020. (Hy Chhay/VOD)

A CNRP activist was arrested in Phnom Penh on Tuesday after being seen participating in small ongoing protests against the jailings of opposition supporters, with a rights group saying nearly 70 political and environmental activists have been imprisoned since the start of last year.

The Tbong Khmum Provincial Court placed Khon Ton, 39, in pretrial detention on charges of being an accomplice to incitement under Articles 29, 494 and 495 following her arrest in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, court spokesperson Theng Cheang said on Wednesday.

Reporters have seen Ton at previous protests around the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against the earlier detentions of opposition supporters and activists.

More than a dozen people were jailed last year for online posts related to Covid-19, while the country saw a wave of activists arrested in August and September amid nationalist-inspired protests about the Vietnamese border. Twelve people were arrested across the country in the last week of December alone, including two others from Tbong Khmum.

In the past month, the Phnom Penh court has begun a series of trials against more than 100 accused opposition politicians and supporters, including foreign nationals living overseas. Hearings are again scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager for rights group Licadho, said nearly 70 activists had been put in jail since the beginning of 2020, including supporters of the outlawed opposition CNRP as well as environmental and youth activists.

“These cases are more about politics than the process of law enforcement, both the arrests and the trials,” Sam Ath said. “It affects the rights and freedoms of people.”

Families of those arrested also faced pressure and struggled with their livelihoods, he added.

The older of Ton’s two children said his parents were divorced and he would be mostly taking care of himself.

“I don’t know exactly where they’ve taken her to. I feel upset,” the 16-year-old said of his mother. “Every day she cooked for us. When she is not here, it’s difficult because we’re alone.”

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