Latest Flash News & Articles

Flash News: CNRP resumes public gathering with grenade attack remembrance ceremony
Published on March 30, 2014

This morning, more than 1500 people, including Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) supporters, Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy, and some monks, gathered in front of Wat Botum to hold a memorial ceremony for the injured and killed in March 1997 grenade attack. The gathering was the first organized event by CNRP in Phnom Penh since state security forces’ lethal clampdown on freedom of assembly in early January, and the largest public gathering since the Cambodian government put a ban on assembly in January.

Participants encountered several roadblocks, checkpoints and a heavy police presence around Wat Botum and Freedom Park, and many were prevented from attending the ceremony.

This morning’s ceremony will be followed by a ‘People’s Congress’ at CNRP headquarters this afternoon. The congress will discuss the ongoing political deadlock.

Flash News: Communities pray for justice and release of the remaining 21
Published on March 28, 2014

This morning, about 100 community and land activists from Boeung Kak Lake, Borei Keila and Thmor Kol, and three monks gathered in front of Ministry of Justice to conduct a prayer ceremony for freedom for the 23 men, including rights defenders and workers, arrested in early January. They were also demanding justice for those killed and injured during the same clashes.

The group was initially blocked from gathering in front of Wat Ounalom and the ceremony was moved to Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Royal Palace before returning to the Supreme Court for more prayers and songs. Chan Puthisak, a community leader from Boeung Kak Lake, is among the 21 still detained in CC3 prison.

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Flash News: Appeal Court denies bail release for Vorn Pao
Published on March 24, 2014

This afternoon, Vorn Pao, the president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), was refused bail from the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh as 300 of his supporters gathered outside the courtroom calling for his release.

Pao, who was not present for the hearing, was arrested with 22 other men, including rights defenders and workers, amid the January 2-3 lethal clampdown on the garment worker strikes. He has been detained in CC3 prison since then. Two of the 23, Yon Sok Chea and Bou Sarith, were released on bail on February 8. On February 11, the 21 other men were refused bail at the Phnom Penh Appeal Court and remain detained in CC3.

According to the court, Pao's five million Riel bail was refused on the grounds that there are two charges against him; that the investigation of the case has been closed and it will go to trial; and to ensure that Pao is present at the trial. His trial date has not yet been set.

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Article: Year 2013 in Review: Land, a Country in Crisis
Published on March 21, 2014

Elections aside, land remained the single most contentious issue in Cambodia in 2013, as it has been for at least the last 10 years. Over 2.2 million hectares of Cambodian land have been granted to large firms in the form of economic land concessions (ELCs).

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Article: Year 2013 in Review: Impunity in the Cambodian Courts
Published on March 20, 2014

As the swelling protests were met with increased suppression, the judicial system remained true to form. 2013 saw a number of high-profile cases in court, with mixed results.

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Article: Year 2013 in Review: A shrinking space for assembly and expression in Cambodia
Published on March 19, 2014

If 2012 was the most violent year ever documented in terms of authorities using lethal force against individual human rights defenders (HRDs), 2013 saw the Cambodian authorities turn that force towards public protests.

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Article: Year 2013 in Review: Cambodian Elections
Published on March 18, 2014

2013 was dominated by one event: the National Assembly elections.

Throughout the year, to shouts of “Change! Change!”, Phnom Penh saw some of its largest demonstrations in decades. Nine days before the elections, which fell on July 28, opposition leader Sam Rainsy returned from France to a crowd of more than 100,000 people and there was a mood of excitement and anticipation as voting day approached.

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Flash News: Villagers block access to their endangered community in eastern Koh Kong
Published on March 16, 2014

Today, dozens of villagers have staged a road block in Koh Kong's Thmar Bang district to prevent Chinese company Sinohydro from bringing heavy machinery into the area for a large scale hydroelectric dam project which would force hundreds of families off their land.

This marks the third consecutive day villagers have blocked the road. Sinohydro's local partner Pheapimex, owned by CPP senator Lao Mengkin, has been involved in some of Cambodia's most notorious land conflicts, including the Boeung Kak lake dispute.

Flash News: Gatherings continue for justice and release
Published on March 3, 2014

This morning, civil society groups gathered once again to call for the release of 21 detainees, including garment workers and human rights activists, arrested in early January.

The group, including land communities, monks, youth networks, unions and NGOs, chanted, banged drums and sang outside Wat Ounalom for about an hour from 8am. The gathering was disrupted after authorities confiscated the drum and loudspeakers; a smaller group of about 200 participants, mainly from land communities, moved to Daun Penh district office to ask for the return of their confiscated equipment. They were confronted by security guards outside the office, leading to a minor clash which saw two women injured.

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Flash News: Kbal Thnal verdict: One man jailed while killing remains un-prosecuted
Published on February 28, 2014

This morning, three among the six men arrested at Kbal Thnal during deadly clashes on September 15, 2013, were found guilty of intentional violence and intentional destruction of property. The other three were cleared of the charges. All six men were tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on February 17, 2014.

Nguyen Thydoc, who has been held in CC1 since his arrest, was was sentenced to three years in prison with two years suspended. Van Neun and Lach Sameun, who were released on bail on October 22, 2013, were also sentenced to three years with all their remaining sentences suspended. All three men plan to appeal the verdict.

Meanwhile, no one from the armed forces has been prosecuted for ordering the use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians which resulted in the death of a bystander on September 15.

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Flash News: Kbal Thnal verdict delayed
Published on February 21, 2014

The verdict of the Kbal Thnal case, in which six men were arrested following clashes on September 15, 2013, has been delayed to February 28.

The men were arrested when roadblocks led to a clash between armed forces and people trying to return home near Kbal Thnal sky bridge. They were tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on February 17. Of the group of six men, four were released on bail on 22 October, one on 22 November and one remains in CC1 prison. All six are accused of intentional violence and intentional damage to property, which carry a combined possible sentence of four to ten years and in prison and fine of 8 million to 20 million Riels. During their trial, none of the men were identified by witnesses and all the police officers who testified denied that their unit had conducted the arrests. According to the presiding judge, the verdict has been delayed due to the complexity of the case.

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Flash News: Short-lived occupation by dispossessed Borei Keila ends in violence
Published on February 14, 2014

This morning, security forces violently ended Borei Keila community's two-day occupation of a building on their land once promised to them.

At about 7am this morning, the road leading to Borei Keila was blocked and riot police, military police and security guards were deployed to remove the families from the building. Six people were seriously injured in the ensuing clashes, including one 7-month-pregnant woman. On Wednesday, over 150 dispossessed Borei Keila families moved in to the building - once promised to them in a land-sharing agreement in 2003 - after the government again failed to remedy the loss of their homes following their violent eviction in January 2012.

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Flash News: Appeal Court denies release for rights defenders and workers
Published on February 11, 2014

This morning, 21 rights defenders and workers arrested early in January were refused bail by the Phnom Penh Appeal Court. The men, who were not present for the closed hearing, belong to the group of 23 arrested in early January amid a lethal clampdown of garment worker strikes and have been detained in CC3 since then. About 200 of their supporters, including their families, remain outside the court building where they have been peacefully gathered since early morning.

On Saturday, two of the group were released on bail prior to today's hearing.

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Article: On Global Day of Action, Cambodians Release Balloons to Sky in Solidarity with 23 Arrestees
Published on February 10, 2014

Cambodians nationwide and people across the globe demonstrated unity today with the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested in last month’s violent clampdown on striking garment workers, where at least four died and 38 were hospitalized, 25 of which suffered from bullet wounds.

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Flash News: Day before appeal: Groups take to the streets
Published on February 10, 2014

Today, groups, communities, and monks are releasing balloons in 57 places in Phnom Penh and the provinces in support of 23 rights defenders and workers arrested last month. After two were released on bail on February 8, the remaining 21 are set to appear at a bail hearing tomorrow at the Appeals Court. These actions are happening in conjunction with today’s global day of action for the arrested rights defenders and workers, which will see international unions IndustriALL, Global Union and ITUC mobilizing workers around the world to protest at Cambodian embassies in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Canberra, Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Hong Kong, Manila, Jakarta, London, and Seoul.

This morning, 100 land activists delivered a petition calling for their release to the Ministry of Justice. Several NGO representatives attempted to deliver a joint civil society petition with 197 signatures to the Vietnamese embassy but their petition was not accepted. At 10am, the Pochentong airport area community will release balloons at their community center.

At 11:30am, in over 40 locations throughout Phnom Penh, groups will gather to release 23 balloons. A larger group will release balloons in front of the Royal Palace. Other groups will simultaneously release balloons in Siem Reap, Poipet, Kampong Som, and Kampot.

Additionally, people from eight unions and NGOs plan to march to the US, Chinese, French, and British embassies to deliver a petition calling for the release of the jailed protesters in January’s violent clampdown and for a $160 minimum wage for garment workers. Their march will culminate at the Royal Palace at 11:30am, where they will join the large group to release balloons.