Black Monday Starts Again as Adhoc Officers Languish in Jail

The long-running Black Monday campaign restarted on Monday in response to the continued imprisonment of four officers from rights group Adhoc and an election official, despite expectations of their release at the end of last year.

Protesters vowed to continue the campaign until the group is freed.

Activists demonstrate in the Boeng Kak community on Monday as part of a Black Monday protest calling for the release of prisoners. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Hopes were raised early last month when it was reported that acting CNRP President Kem Sokha and Prime Minister Hun Sen had put the wheels in motion for the human rights officers and Ny Chakrya, an election official who previously worked for Adhoc, to leave prison after eight months in detention.

However, with the group still behind bars, about 20 activists staged a protest in Phnom Penh’s eviction-hit Boeng Kak community on Monday morning. Unlike many previous protests, there was no scuffling with police and no arrests.

Mr. Sokha last week requested a meeting with Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who accepted, but did not set a date. CNRP President Sam Rainsy, meanwhile, this week accused the government of demanding that Mr. Sokha sign a statement—which the opposition leader fears will eventually be used against him—in order to secure the prisoners’ release.

“We regret that Samdech Sar Kheng claimed those human rights defenders and [election] official would be released,” activist Sung Sreyleap said.

“So, we have to start again,” she added.

The human rights officers and election official were jailed in April after being accused of attempting to bribe an alleged mistress of Mr. Sokha to deny an affair, in a case generally considered to be politically motivated.

Ms. Sreyleap said the Black Monday campaign would not be halted unless the group is released along with fellow land activist Tep Vanny, who remains in jail on charges relating to a 2011 demonstration.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said an agreement over the release of the Adhoc officers and the election official could still be reached through negotiations, but claimed that the decision ultimately lay in the hands of the courts.

“What Samdech Sar Kheng raised last month just meant that there would be negotiations until there’s a meeting with Mr. Kem Sokha,” he said.

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