Activists Turn to US’s Hillary Clinton for Help

The “Black Monday” campaign restarted in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood on Monday, with more than 20 protesters seeking U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s help in securing the release of jailed activist Tep Vanny.

Now running for almost four months, the campaign started in reaction to the imprisonment of officers from rights group Adhoc and an election official in a case widely seen as being politically motivated. Since then, the movement has dovetailed with calls for a transparent investigation into the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

Protesters hold up photographs of U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton yesterday while calling for the release of activist Tep Vanny during the latest ‘Black Monday’ demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood. (Satoshi Takahashi)
Protesters hold up photographs of U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton yesterday while calling for the release of activist Tep Vanny during the latest ‘Black Monday’ demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood. (Satoshi Takahashi)

Following a week off, more than 20 activists protested in the eviction-hit community on Monday, holding lotus flowers and photographs of Ms. Clinton while asking her to help free Ms. Vanny.

“Now we want Ms. Hillary Clinton to intervene for Ms. Tep Vanny because we know that [Ms. Vanny] received an award for nonviolent advocacy and protesting,” protester Bov Sophea said on Monday. “Why does she have to be imprisoned?”

In 2013, the two met and posed for photographs together during the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award ceremony, two months after Ms. Clinton resigned as U.S. secretary of state.

Two weeks ago, Ms. Vanny and Ms. Sophea were arrested during a protest in Phnom Penh during which they cursed effigies of court officials.

Protesters chant during the latest 'Black Monday' demonstration in Phnom Penh's Boeng Kak neighborhood on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Protesters chant during the latest ‘Black Monday’ demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

They were convicted of “insulting” on August 22 and Ms. Sophea was released, having already served her six-day sentence. Ms. Vanny was sent back to provisional detention over a separate charge related to a 2013 protest.

Speaking during a public forum at the opposition CNRP’s headquarters in Phnom Penh, Prince Sisowath Thomico, a prominent member of the party—whose officials have been wearing black on Mondays in solidarity with the activists—urged greater participation.

“I see about 10 to 20 people here not yet wearing the black shirt. Next week, please wear it together,” he said.

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