PPF expressed concern over the restrictions -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

PPF expressed concern over the restrictions on fundamentals of freedom of expression and assembly

Pakistan Press Foundation

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia expressed concern over the increasing rate of interference and restrictions faced by the fundamentals of freedom of expression and assembly from the kingdom of Cambodia.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in the letter called on the Cambodian government to end the increasing trend of interference, restrictions on freedom of expression, and assembly.

According to Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), the Royal Government of Cambodia increasingly represses in violation of the fundamental freedom of expression and assembly. In a fact sheet, CCHR described the recent trend and emphasized the danger of limiting the fundamental freedom.

Two major campaigns were run this year from March to August against curbing the freedom of expression. May 2016 saw the beginning of a new campaign of peaceful demonstrations – the “Black Monday” campaign. The first event was an attempted march to Prey Sar prison to express solidarity with the five human rights defenders detained on what are widely believed to be politically motivated charges in relation to the deputy opposition leader’s alleged extra-marital relationship.

The campaign of peaceful demonstration were reacted with a heavy handed approach by the authorities of Cambodia, as different strategies were used to stop the campaign like the intrusive photography of participants and observers, while an attempt was made to detain all foreigner activists by the Cambodian government, showcasing the campaign as de facto illegal activity. The country’s interior ministry announced that the participation in the demonstration would be tantamount to “incitement”.

Since the beginning, each event of the campaign has been marked as an unofficial interference, as during nine weeks of campaign each event confronted the violence erupted between protestors and security guards.

Borie Keila belonging to protesters was arrested for joining the 15 Black Monday protest, while two activists from Boeng Kak, Ms Tep vanny and Ms Bov Sophea were also detained on charges of incitement on the same day. Later, on 22 August, the two activists were convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on the charges of insulting. They were awarded six-day imprisonment with 80,000 Riel fine each.

Next protest campaign was The CNRP thumbprint petition campaign, which was organized against the Royal Government Cambodia’s reaction to Kem Sokha’s alleged extra marital relationship and associated detention. On 19 May, two CNRP activists in Kompong Thom were arrested on charges of provoking the people for collecting thumbprints. On 30 May, 170,000 thumbprints were endorsed in its petition after which RGC bunged up the campaign and argued over its credibility. In March, Mother Nature activists were interdicted on the way to a protest outside the Prime Minister House.

On April 18, another activist was prohibited from holding of peaceful memorial ceremony dedicated to lost lands in Preah Vihear. Since March 2016, CCHR and other NGOs have experienced operational restrictions on researches, training, and other activities by the Royal Cambodian Government.