Cambodia is now witnessing a crackdown on dissent of a level that is unprecedented in the country’s recent political history. In the current atmosphere of increasing repression, in-person youth engagement in politics and social issues seems to lead directly to immediate arrest and imprisonment.
As Cambodia is edging further towards a one-party state or an authoritarian regime, space for activism and freedom of expression has been severely undermined. No doubt, direct contact with the authorities is dangerous and can lead to arrest and other forms of punishment, as recent developments have shown.
But Cambodian youth represent the future, and as such they should not accept exclusion from governance. If they want to circumvent the challenges on the ground and build momentum for youth activism as seen in Thailand and elsewhere, young people in Cambodia may consider a deeper embrace of online activism as a safer way to express their concerns, mobilise support and make their voices heard.