Source: Khmer Times
A Justice Ministry spokesman has branded the Black Monday campaign to release rights activists as useless, warning those who take part could face legal action.
On Monday, Kim Santepheap said criminal proceedings against detained activists will go ahead regardless of the campaign, while organizers and participants could face legal action if they break the law as part of protests.
His comments came after activists involved with the Black Monday movement called on the public to escalate the campaign for the release of Boeung Kak land activist Tep Vanny and five civil society workers detained for their involvement with Khom Chandaraty, the woman at the center of an alleged sex scandal with opposition leader Kem Sokha.
Mr. Santepheap said, “We have no option but to enforce the law against those who break it, to ensure national security and public order. They would be better off protesting in accordance with the law instead.”
Despite the warning, Boeung Kak community representative Bov Sophea said she and others would continue to support the campaign.
If government officials think the movement is useless, they shouldn’t be worried about people taking part, she said.
“We are demanding justice for detained civil society workers. We are not trying to overthrow the government. The government should allow the public to use their democratic freedoms rather than threatening people and using the judicial system to oppress them.”
According to human rights NGO Licadho, 38 Black Monday protesters have been arrested since the campaign began in May 2016. Most were detained for several hours before being released without charge.