CNRP is Back in Black

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The opposition said its members who wear black on Mondays do not re ect the of cial party stance. Supplied

Although the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) stated on Saturday that it was not officially supporting the ongoing “Black Monday” protests, some of the party’s members yesterday took part in the campaign to support jailed human rights activists, during which four protesters from the Women Land Community were arrested.
 
Early last week, CNRP member Eng Chhay Eang announced that the party will join the Black Monday campaign every week to demand the release of political and human activists who were jailed.
 
But after City Hall threatened to take legal action, party spokesman Yim Sovann claimed Mr. Chhay Eang’s statement was that of an individual expressing their opinion and not the official party position.
 
Mr. Chhay Eang yesterday posted photographs of CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, and party members, all wearing black.
 
“Every Monday, we support the Black Monday campaign to demand the release of prisoners of conscience and also to drop charges against political party members and human rights activists,” he wrote.
 
CNRP member Mut Chantha also took to Facebook to voice his support for the campaign.
 
“We continue to demand the release of all conscience prisoners who are detained in prison. Black shirts do not represent something illegal, unless we wear black clothes to commit crimes against the law.
 
“The law refers to any laws which were approved by the National Assembly and promulgated by the king,” he wrote.
 
Although the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has not yet responded, Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng told Khmer Times yesterday that authorities will monitor the situation.
 
“Do not let anyone say that Cambodia has no law. To those who live in Cambodia, please understand about the law in the country and do not have the perception that Cambodia has no law,” he said.
 
Yesterday, almost 10 Borei Keila residents, who have refused to accept compensation from authorities, had their plans for a Black Monday protest blocked by 7 Makara district police officers. Four protesters were arrested and taken to the district police office for questioning before being released.
 
District police chief Neth Sithon refused to comment on the matter yesterday.
 
Am Sam Ath, senior coordinator at rights group Licadho, said the four women were released at 5pm after receiving a warning from police about organizing any more protests. He described the arrests as highlighting the authorities’ fear of protests and added that they are not afraid of restrictions on legal freedom of expression.
 
“The Black Monday campaign has clear purposes, and the citizens express those voluntarily. The accusation of revolution seems too strong and competent authorities should examine the demands from the campaign participants,” he said.
 
Yesterday marked the 15th week of protests against the arrest of four Adhoc officials and a senior official from the National Election Committee.
 
Marked by protesters wearing black clothing, the original protests outside Prey Sar prison, where the five are being held, had to be stopped after a government crackdown.

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