Thursday, July 17, 2014

Six Cambodian opposition party members charged with insurrection

Australia Network News (ABC) - Wed 16 Jul 2014, 8:13pm AEST

PHOTO: Opposition MP Mu Sochua (C) being led away by police near Phnom Penh's Freedom Park.(Twitter: @doyle_kevin)
A Cambodian court has charged six members of the main opposition party with leading an insurrection during a protest that left scores injured, activists say.

The charge could carry up to 30 years in jail.

Mu Sochua, a prominent voice of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), her assistant and four other MPs-elect were arrested after clashes at a demonstration on Tuesday against the closure of Phnom Penh's main designated protest site.

They were charged with leading an insurrection movement, masterminding intentional violence and inciting criminal acts, Ket Khy, a lawyer for Mu Sochua, told reporters.

"This is a setback for democracy in Cambodia," Am Sam Ath from the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights said.

He said all six were placed in pre-trial detention.

The MPs-elect, who have boycotted parliament since a disputed general election last year, were brought to Phnom Penh Municipal Court in handcuffs, according to witnesses.

More than 100 opposition supporters were gathered outside the court house, the Phnom Penh Post's editor Chad Williams told the ABC.

CNRP's acting president Kem Kokha held a press conference calling for the MPs to be released, Mr Williams said.

Xinhua new agency said Keo Remy, Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers, has accused the MPs of leading their supporters to "brutally attack security personnel".

Kem Kokha has denied that his party's senior officials incited protesters to commit violence, Xinhua reported.

"Usually, we hold nonviolent protests," he said. "Tuesday's violence was caused by the authorities."

Hundreds protest outside "Freedom Park"

On Tuesday, around 300 opposition supporters protested outside Phnom Penh's "Freedom Park", which has been closed since a bloody crackdown on striking garment workers in January.

Clashes between security guards and protesters left nearly 40 guards injured, with three of them being treated in an intensive care unit, the government said in a statement.

This is a setback for democracy in Cambodia
Am Sam Ath, Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights

Rights activists said some opposition supporters were also wounded during the protest, where police fired tear gas to stop the guards and protesters fighting with sticks and stones.

Ms Sochua and fellow MPs Keo Pearum, Men Sothavrin and Ho Vann were arrested after clashes broke out between protesters and police.

A fifth MP Real Camerin and an official working for Ms Sochua, Oeur Narith, were later also arrested.

CNRP has boycotted parliament since elections last July, alleging that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was returned to power because of widespread vote-rigging.

Mr Hun Sen faces mounting criticism by rights groups over the suppression of street protests intended to challenge his nearly three-decade rule following the contested election last year.

Watch video Zoe Daniel speaks with Ou Virak from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights: Cambodian opposition members charged with insurrection (The World).


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