Activists Will Switch to White for ‘Black Monday’

“Black Monday” protesters plan to switch their coordinated clothing to white this morning during protests in Phnom Penh in an effort to show authorities that they are not attempting to incite a “color revolution,” an activist said on Sunday.

For the past eight weeks, activists have donned black shirts on the streets while calling for the release of an election official and four human rights officers jailed for allegedly bribing a mistress of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha to deny the affair.

Activists stage a protest in Phnom Penh's Pur Senchey district in May to mark the third 'Black Monday' since a group of human rights officers were arrested. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Activists stage a protest in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district in May to mark the third ‘Black Monday’ since a group of human rights officers were arrested. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

But as their protests are often met with a heavy security presence and culminate in arrests, activists will wear white today when they rally at a resettlement site in Dangkao district, said Im Srey Touch, an activist who has been arrested twice since the campaign began.

“We will continue our ‘Black Monday’ campaign into the ninth week tomorrow at Borei Santepheap II,” Ms. Srey Touch said, referring to the neighborhood where evicted Borei Keila residents were offered apartments.

“However, we will change our clothes from black to white because we want to show that we are clean, and we want to send a message to Prime Minister Hun Sen that we are not doing a color revolution like he thinks,” Ms. Srey Touch said.

In May, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned against any future protests in which participants were all dressed in the same color, which he said was a sign of attempts to foment a popular revolution. Officials have since detained numerous activists protesting peacefully but dressed in black.

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said on Sunday that authorities were not concerned about what color the activists were wearing.

“We do not care whether they wear white or black…the important point is their purpose,” Mr. Measpheakdey said. “They write something on their shirts—for example: ‘Release Human Rights Defenders’—and then do activism. It is wrong.”

Authorities will “take action” against activists if they go ahead with this morning’s protest, he added, repeating the same warning that has come before protests over the past eight weeks.

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